Suit Filed Against Firestone and Ford in Death of Assistant Miami City Attorney

August 10, 2000 / 8:49 am

CORAL GABLES (August 10, 2000) — The Law Firm of Colson Hicks Eidson today announced that it filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of Emma Pupo Fernandez, the widow of assistant Miami City Attorney Jose Amador Fernandez, against Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., Ford Motor Co. and Midway Ford for the death of her husband and child, who were killed as a result of an automobile crash caused when the family’s 1994 Ford Explorer’s left rear tire tread separated on the Florida Turnpike.

“This was a fine upstanding citizen whose life and that of his newborn child were cut short by this incident,” stated Mike Eidson, partner at Colson Hicks Eidson. “Emma lost her husband and child, and Carolina lost her father and sister, because of a defective Firestone ATX tire.”

The Fernandez family was traveling on Florida Turnpike South, returning from a trip to Walt Disney World on May 23, 1999. When the tread on the left rear tire suddenly separated from the body of the tire causing a blowout, the Fernandez Ford Explorer went out of control and rolled over approximately five times. Emma, who was 8 ½ months pregnant, and Jose were ejected from the vehicle. Jose died at the scene, while Emma was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, where doctors performed an emergency c-section. The baby, Emma Teresa Fernandez, had suffered severe oxygen depravation as a result of the crash and died three days after her birth.

Carolina Fernandez, the couple’s two-year-old daughter, was left without her father and sister. Emma, who was in a coma for almost a week, did not have an opportunity to see her newborn daughter and also was unable to attend the funeral of her husband and daughter.

“I am concerned that it took Firestone such a long time to protect the public; after so many deaths and near death incidents and after the company’s experience with the problems associated with the Firestone 500 tires in the seventies,” added Eidson, past Chairman of the Products Liability Section of the American Trial Lawyers Association.

There seems to be a particular problem with the combination of the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires and the Ford Explorer. Due to the vehicle design of the Explorer, it has a higher propensity to rollover if the tire tread separates from the tire, particularly at highway speeds and in warmer climates, like Florida.

“For years, Firestone has defended itself from the claims of victims of automobile crashes caused by tire tread separation,” stressed Eidson. “Firestone has been aware of the design defects of their tires, but has continually placed the burden of the incidents on drivers’ inability to control an uncontrollable vehicle traveling at high speeds with a sudden tire failure.”

“In recalling 6.6 million ATX tires, Firestone has admitted that there is a problem. Hopefully, this action will save others from experiencing what the Fernandez family has already suffered,” added Eidson.

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