In Re Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. Tires Products Liability Litigation

288 F.3d 1012 (7th Cir. 2002)


Firestone tires on Ford Explorer SUVs experienced an abnormally high failure rate. Many lawsuits were filed for (1) the injuries or deaths caused by the defective tires or (2) the risk of failure, including damages for diminished resale value or mental stress. Those suits filed in federal court were transferred to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana for consolidated pretrial proceedings. Once the pretrial proceedings were finished, they would be transferred back. To prevent retransfer, many plaintiffs filed a new consolidated suit in Indianapolis and asked the judge to certify it as a nationwide class action, which would make all other suits redundant. The district court agreed and certified two nationwide classes: the first for owners of Ford Explorers during the relevant times and the second covered just tires alone. These classes were labeled the Explorer and Tire classes. The two classes covered more than 60 million tires and 3 million vehicles. The court ruled that all claims by the Explorer class will be resolved under Michigan law and all claims by the tire class will be resolved under Tennessee law. Ds petitioned for interlocutory review. Ds contend that the suit is exceedingly unlikely to be tried in that aggregating millions of claims on account of multiple products manufactured and sold across more than ten years makes the case so unwieldy, and the stakes so large, that settlement becomes almost inevitable.