INDIO, CA — A California judge today dismissed a motion seeking national class action status for an on-going lawsuit alleging defects in Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire’s entire Firestone Steeltex line. The ruling, which came after months of delays, is expected to be appealed by attorney Joseph Lisoni, who has made it a personal crusade to force the court-ordered recall of all Steeltex tires.
California Superior Court Judge Christopher Sheldon ruled that Lisoni and his client, Roger Littell, a Yucca Valley, Calif., retiree who claims that five Steeltex tires on his recreational vehicle suffered blowouts, failed to provide any evidence that all claims against BFNAT over its Steeltex line should be tied together in a national class action suit.
According to a BFNAT spokesman, the additional 38 claims Lisoni was attempting to include in a national suit came from different states, each with their own product liability laws and statutes of limitations.
Immediately after the Mar. 17 hearing, which had been rescheduled numerous times, Lisoni said he would appeal the ruling to the state appellate court, and would attempt to file class action claims in all 50 states.
A BFNAT spokesman said the company is delighted with the ruling, but fully expected the judge to rule in its favor. BFNAT still faces the original lawsuit filed by Littell in August 2002, as well as other individual suits filed in other states. However, unless the state appellate court overturns Judge Sheldon’s ruling it seems unlikely that BFNAT will face a court-ordered national recall.
In a press conference held on Mar. 12, Lisoni publicly blamed NHTSA because it “refused every request to force a recall” of the Steeltex line. Last spring, NHTSA refused Lisoni’s request to re-open its investigation of the tire line. Lisoni claimed that on Apr. 2 he would refile his petition to NHTSA asking that the agency reopen its investigation, this time limiting it to Steeltex tires fitted on ambulances.
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