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Jury awards $29 mln in Ford/Firestone suit

Posted on Jan 29, 2006

Jury awards $29 mln in Ford/Firestone suit DETROIT (Reuters) - A Texas jury on Friday handed down a verdict of more than $29 million against Ford Motor Co. (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Firestone for a 22-year-old woman who was rendered a quadriplegic by an accident in her Mazda Navajo, attorneys for the woman said in a statement. Ford said it would appeal the verdict in the trial against Ford and Firestone, the tire brand involved in the highly publicized 2000 and 2001 safety recalls. The tire recalls came after at least 271 people died in accidents attributed to tire blowouts. Ford owns one-third of Japanese automaker Mazda Motor Corp. The court has ordered Ford to pay 85 percent of the $29 million, and Firestone to pay 15 percent, according to Jason Hoelscher, an attorney from law firm Sico, White & Braugh, who represented the plaintiff. "However, because of the settlement between Ford and Firestone, the tire maker will not have to pay," he added. Ford in October struck a $240 million settlement with Bridgestone Corp. (5108.T: Quote, Profile, Research), maker of the Firestone tires. A Ford spokeswoman said the accident was caused by driver error, and added that the driver, Rose Munoz, was not wearing a seat belt. "The Mazda Navajo is a safe, reliable vehicle and not the cause of either the accident or Miss Munoz's injuries," Kathleen Vokes said. "For this and other reasons, Ford is confident this verdict will be reversed on appeal," she added.

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