CINCINNATI - A class-action lawsuit accuses Ford Motor Co. of risking thousands of lives with an intentionally confusing recall of defective tires.
The lawsuit claims Ford's recall is so complicated it discourages motorists from replacing dangerous tires.
''Everybody is getting some sort of runaround,'' said attorney Stanley Chesley, who filed the lawsuit Friday.
Ford announced the recall Aug. 9 of 6.5 million P235/75R15 size radial ATX and ATX II brands, as well as Wilderness AT tires of the same size made at a plant in Decatur, Ill., by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. The tires are mostly on Ford trucks and sport utility vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the tires in connection with accidents that caused 62 deaths and 100 injuries. Investigators say 80 percent of those accidents occurred when the tire treads came apart, causing the vehicles to roll over or spin out of control.
Chesley's lawsuit claims the companies save about $500 in tires and labor every time a customer decides not to take part in the recall.
''They are discouraging people from coming in,'' Chesley said.
But Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone said Saturday that they are doing all they can to get the new tires to their customers.
''We've seen a few class action attorneys trying to capitalize on this situation after the recall,'' Susan Krusel of Ford said Saturday. ''But right now, Ford is helping Firestone. We're working around the clock. Our No. 1 priority right now is to resolve this issue for our customers.''
Ken Fields, a spokesman for Bridgestone/Firestone in St. Louis, said the company has doubled production of tires in the United States, increased imports and is reimbursing customers who replace recalled tires with its competitors' tires.
Chesley said he will work with attorneys in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia to expand his class-action lawsuit.
In Florida, tire owners have asked for an emergency order to force Firestone to issue vouchers for new tires to allow replacements with competitors' tires at Firestone's expense up front.
An attempt to get a speedy hearing Friday on a lawsuit that would cover all Florida motorists with recalled Firestone tires was thwarted when the company got the case moved from state to federal court.
On the Net: Bridgestone/Firestone: http://www.bridgestone-firestone.com
Ford Motor Co.: http://www.ford.com
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov
House Commerce Committee: http://www.house.gov/commerce