Product Liability

Montana man settles personal injury claim with Ford in Firestone tire blowout case

shredded tire BA istock1 Montana man settles personal injury claim with Ford in Firestone tire blowout caseA settlement has been reached between a Montana man and Ford Motor Company in a personal injury case that has gone on for nearly six years, the Great Falls (Montana) Tribune reported.

Bryan Mizenko, a resident of Cascade County, Montana, sued Ford, Firestone Tires, and Pete’s Auto of Great Falls in 2006 after a tire-thread separation incident caused him to lose control of his 1989 Ford Bronco and crash.

On Labor Day Weekend 2003, according to court documents, Mr. Mizenko was driving the Bronco on a state highway when one of his tires suddenly blew out, causing him to lose control of the vehicle. The Bronco careened off the highway and rolled, ejecting Mr. Mr. Mizenko. He suffered multiple serious injuries as a result of the crash, including permanent paralysis and cognitive impairment.

Mr. Mizenko alleged in his lawsuit that a defectively designed tire made by Firestone especially for the Bronco II caused the blowout of his left rear tire. The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the Bronco’s design made such thread-separation and tire-blowout events more likely to occur and that Ford was aware of this potentially lethal flaw but chose to do nothing about it.

According to Mr. Mizenko’s suit, the tire-separation incident on his vehicle was one of several involving that type of Firestone tire.

Ford blamed the age and configuration of Mr. Mizenko’s tires for the severity of the crash, also claiming that his use of off-brand shock absorbers might have played a role.

A panel of 12 jurors voted 11 to 1 in favor of Mizenko in a verdict reached on April 25, concluding that the defects in the Firestone tire sold by Ford were a significant factor in causing the crash. They did not find that a design flaw or defect in the actual Ford vehicle contributed to the crash.

Ford was the only remaining defendant in the case. Firestone and the auto shop settled with Mr. Mizenko previously out of court. The terms of the agreement have not been released to the public.

It is not uncommon for an investigation into a personal injury claim to reveal a defective product. This is especially true in the case of a single-vehicle accident, which is often the result of defective tires, seat belts or other components of the automobile that do not work as they should. Product liability claims seek to hold manufacturers accountable for these dangerous products, and hopefully to spur changes that will make products safer for the public in the future.


Great Falls Tribune