Banner: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler
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For Immediate Release
December 20, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

ATTORNEYS GENERAL ANNOUNCE $51.5 MILLION NATIONWIDE
SETTLEMENT WITH THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., along with the Attorneys General of 52 other jurisdictions, today announced a $51.5 million nationwide settlement with The Ford Motor Company resolving allegations of deceptive trade practices relating to the sale and advertising of Ford SUVs.

The states alleged that Ford failed to disclose a known safety risk concerning tire failures with certain Firestone ATX and Wilderness AT tires that came equipped on some Ford SUVs. Specifically, the states maintained that Ford continued to use the tires even after the company knew the tires had an unacceptably high failure rate and that using the tires made Ford's SUVs more likely to roll over. The states also alleged that Ford advertising exaggerated the safe loading capacity and maneuverability of Ford SUVs, and that Ford deceptively advertised aftermarket tires as original equipment tires in its "Around the Wheel" program. Ford denied any wrongdoing.

The states will use $30 million from Ford to mount a nationwide public service consumer education campaign on SUV safety. Also, each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands will receive a payment of $300,000. The remainder will be used to pay the costs of the states' investigation. Ford already has spent approximately $2 billion to replace tires in the 53 jurisdictions.

"Today's settlement will provide greater protections for consumers who purchase Ford SUVs," Attorney General Curran said.

The joint settlement agreement, reached with the full cooperation of the Ford Motor Company, comes a year after the states entered into a $51.5 million nationwide settlement with Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., related to the advertising and sale of tires that had high rates of tread separations. Bridgestone/Firestone manufactured the tires specifically for use as original equipment on Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers.

In addition to providing funding for a national SUV safety campaign, the agreement contains a number of important provisions to enhance consumer safety:

• The settlement prohibits Ford from making misrepresentations about the cargo capacity, safety and handling characteristics of their SUVs, or the purpose of any recall or recommended inspection. This includes prohibiting Ford from using the term "car-like" in advertising with respect to the steering and handling of its SUVs.

• The company must have reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any representations about vehicle safety, performance or durability.

• Ford must provide safety information about cargo loading and vehicle handling to each consumer who buys a Ford SUV and provide Spanish-language owners' guides upon request.

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