From wire reports and Tire Review staff
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl has denied a motion by attorney Joseph Lisoni to disqualify Judge Christopher Sheldon from hearing further matters in his attempts to gain a national class action suit against Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire (BFNAT).
Sheldon ruled in March that Lisoni, who represents two plaintiffs in a suit against the tiremaker over alleged defects in its Firestone Steeltex line, failed to meet criteria for national class action status. Lisoni filed a complaint against Sheldon claiming the judge was prejudicial, and sought to have him removed from the case.
California State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald George appointed Kuhl to decide whether Sheldon, a Riverside County Superior Court judge in Indio, Calif., should be removed from the case.
Refusing to disqualify himself, Sheldon said in a written response he is not prejudiced or biased against or in favor of either party and has made all of his rulings according to the law to the best of his ability.
In her written ruling, Kuhl said Lisoni’s motion was not filed soon enough and did not state grounds warranting disqualification.
Kuhl said Lisoni had not proven bias or prejudice with a concrete set of facts. A judge cannot be disqualified based on mere conclusions, hearsay or speculation, she said.
Because the case was on hold until the issue was resolved, Kuhl’s ruling means it now can move forward. Additional hearings are scheduled Aug. 5.
“Sheldon’s ruling denying class-action certification was proper under California law and supported by the facts and evidence,” said Dan MacDonald, BFNAT spokesman. “Efforts to disqualify him were simply sour grapes.”
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