Product Liability Danger In 1992 Mazda Navajo Faulty Tire & Rear Axle "Skate"
Most auto product liability lawyers In 2002, Rose Marie Munoz was a rear-seat passenger in a 1992 Mazda Navajo (basically a renamed Ford Explorer SUV) being driven near Poteet, Texas. When the tread separated from the left rear tire, the Mazda veered off the road and into a ditch, rolling over three-and-a-half times. The 22-year-old Munoz, who was ejected from the vehicle, was the only one of four occupants seriously injured. Sadly, her life would never be the same. She became a quadriplegic after the car accident.
Munoz subsequently filed a lawsuit against Ford and Mazda (makers of the Navajo). Her defective auto product lawyers alleged that the left rear Firestone tire on the Navajo failed causing the SUV to roll over. They asserted that the Navajo was designed, manufactured, assembled and marketed by Ford Motor Company, Mazda Motor America and Mazda North America--all of whom share some level of responsibility, along with Firestone.
"The Firestone ATX tire in question was not an original equipment tire for that Navajo," noted nationally recognized auto defects lawyer John Bisnar. "It was a spare tire and wasn't included in the Ford/Firestone tire recall program at the time. All this points to the dangers of aging tires and the lack of vigilance in Ford's recall efforts. Old spare tires have been known to weaken internally with no visible signs that they may be unfit and unsafe for use. Such tires deteriorate and can cause a blowout at high rates of speed or during hot weather. A U.S.-based safety group called Strategic Safety recommends that motorists should replace tires that are more than 10 years old, including the spare tire."
Munoz's attorneys further alleged that the phenomenon known as rear axle "skate" was an inherent problem in the Ford Explorer/Mazda Navajo, which led to loss of control after tire failure.
"Rear-end skate is the lateral movement that occurs when a vehicle with a solid rear axle travels over sharp bumps or washboard road surfaces," explained John Bisnar. "In tests, this has shown controllability problems in the Explorer--in particular oversteer--when a tire becomes disabled and aggravates the natural resonance of the rear axle, especially at higher speeds."
The Texas state court jury awarded $29 million in damages to Munoz. The jury assigned 75% of the liability to Ford and 10% to Mazda for not providing adequate notification to customers about the danger of older tires. The remaining 15% went to Bridgestone, parent company of Firestone.
"Ford needs to accept responsibility for the design of the Firestone tires sold as original equipment on Ford Explorers and Mazda Navajos," observed John Bisnar. "This case clearly underscores Ford's lack of responsibility in implementing a $142 fix to an SUV that was producing over a billion dollars a year in profits for Ford. This was a preventable tragedy that reveals the cost-benefit strategy the seems to rule major car makers."
Brian Chase of the nationally recognized Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys auto defects firm, noted, "Ms. Munoz had been under tremendous emotional and physical pain, yet acted responsibly to confront a giant car maker. Holding Ford/Mazda accountable for a preventable tragedy is to be commended. Our hope is that these lawsuits, and the many lawsuits we have filed against Ford/Mazda and other car makers will convince them to design safer tires and to be more vigilant and aggressive in their recall efforts."
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as the result of a defective auto part or vehicle, contact the experienced California auto products liability attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. We will use our extensive knowledge and resources to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.