Settlement reached with Ford, Bridgestone in death case

Thursday, January 9, 2003

TUSKEGEE, Ala. -- A settlement was reached with Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone-Firestone tires over a blowout and wreck that killed civil rights leader Earl Shinhoster and injured two others, the judge in the case said Wednesday.

Terms of the settlement were confidential, Circuit Judge Howard Bryan said.

The settlement closed the case brought by Shinhoster's wife, Ruby Shinhoster, and Samimah Aziz and Ademah Hackshaw.

Shinhoster, a veteran NAACP official in Atlanta, and Aziz were passengers in a Ford Explorer being driven by Hackshaw when a tire blew out June 11, 2000, on Interstate 85 near Tuskegee.

Aziz, a goddaughter of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, suffered serious injuries and Hackshaw minor injuries in the accident, which happened as they rode in a speeding motorcade with the first lady of Nigeria and a state patrol escort.

The claims by Aziz and Hackshaw were settled Monday, but the agreement was not officially announced until Wednesday when the Shinhoster settlement was disclosed.

The news came shortly before a trial jury was to be picked for the lawsuit against Ford and Bridgestone, which have faced many other suits claiming defective tires and Explorer rollovers.

"I'm relieved after what I've been going through the last two years, but they still haven't admitted they did anything wrong," said Ruby Shinhoster.

Attorneys for Bridgestone-Firestone referred questions to corporate officials who were Tire deathsnot immediately available. There was no immediate comment from attorneys for Ford, who have said previously that the company was not at fault.

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