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Settlement for Undisclosed Amount in Firestone Suit

Aired August 24, 2001 - 11:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We need to interrupt and take you to McAllen, Texas. That's where we're going to listen to Ricardo Rodriguez. He is the attorney -- actually the attorney for the Rodriguez family, who was suing Firestone and now reached a settlement.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

RICHARD GARCIA, ATTORNEY: I am not going to go there, I am just not.

(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

GARCIA: What we always wanted to do was to come and go ahead and, you know, put before the public the Firestone story, if you will, and that's always been our objective.

QUESTION: How will the outcome of this case affect future cases?

GARCIA: The transcript is there to read and everybody gets this copy.

QUESTION: The judge asked the jury not to say anything because of the pending trials?

GARCIA: The judge asked the jury that if -- it's their decision, if they want to discuss the this case, it's up to them. They are free to, if they choose to.

QUESTION: What is your estimation? What impact will this case have on future cases?

GARCIA: The outcome is that for one thing, is that Ford -- I mean, Firestone has been very much the issue of explorer, the central defense of this case. And now very much so Ford will have to decide you know, how vigorous they will defend that Explorer, or continue to resolve the cases that they have been.

QUESTION: They're so intertwined, aren't they?

GARCIA: They're integral. One, you know, you have the Firestone tires on their vehicle, and that vehicle, you know, has now been modified 2002. So Ford's going to have to come out and show not only their new product was different, but that their whole product wasn't defective to start with.

QUESTION: Were you getting nervous to think that the jury to think that Firestone wasn't as much to blame as Ford and that way...

GARCIA: I mean, everybody starts to get concerned when the jury is out four days. You know, they were obviously also. They were -- nobody knows where they were. Nobody knows what they decided. You know, we don't even if they are going to be willing to talk to us or to you all. So that's -- we will see.

No, of that the decision that was made between Tad Michael (ph) and I this morning.

QUESTION: What effect will this have on the hundreds of other lawsuits that are still pending against Firestone?

GARCIA: The effect is again, you have a transcript there that can be requested, you know, and it's there for the public, the plaintiffs' lawyers that represent consumers to request and read, to look over those documents.

(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

QUESTION: Was Firestone to blame? Was Firestone to blame in this rollover?

GARCIA: Well of that's the position, wasn't it? If you sat in the trial, you know that was our position.

QUESTION: But if we don't have the jury's final analysis, all we know is that Firestone got a little nervous and you guys agreed to the amount that you offered.

QUESTION: In your complaint, both Firestone tire and the Ford explorer is the original complaint.

GARCIA: Right. That's right.

QUESTION: So we don't know which is to blame unless the jury tell us. We heard that they were leaning.

GARCIA: We don't know unless they want to talk to us.

QUESTION: Did Firestone admit liability in the...

GARCIA: No, Firestone has not admitted liability.

QUESTION: All right.

(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)

QUESTION: Jorgue, how do you feel about the decision?

JORGUE RODRIGUEZ, PLAINTIFF: Great. This has been an honor having you all here. And helping us to get in the word, the facts, of the accident to the American public. I would like to thank the jury and all of you for spending so much time here, waiting for the decision, and we're glad about everything that has been going on. We are pleased with the agreement. We have settled right now.

Marisa is our main concern right now, and I think that we will get our lives' back, at least not as it was before. But now we can begin to work over that.

QUESTION: Was it your decision to initiate these conversations and to reach a settlement at this point?

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, sir. It was my decision.

QUESTION: Yes, sir?

QUESTION: We were told that it was the lawyers thought about that at 9:00.

RODRIGUEZ: Yes, they did. Before they have to come to us to make the final decision about what to do.

QUESTION: Oh, I see.

Why at this point and not at the beginning of this trial?

RODRIGUEZ: The facts had to go out. That was one of our main concerns. And I think during this trial, you were there, and you heard all the evidence being presented to the jury, and I think now, you don't have anything...

KAGAN: Okay. We're leaving McAllen, Texas, listening to a news conference there. Once again, there has been a settlement on the part of the family of Marisa Rodriguez, who was left wheelchair-bound after an accident in a Ford Explorer. An undisclosed amount between the Rodriguez family and Bridgestone-Firestone.

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