Tiremaker Firestone and its parent company, Bridgestone Corp., have settled a 7-year-old lawsuit that claimed a defective Firestone tire caused a crash that decapitated an Indiana couple traveling toward Georgia.
A Georgia man, William Chastain of Walker County, was driving his Ford F-250 pickup on Nov. 10, 2005, when he lost control after one of his tires separated and exploded on I-24 near Manchester, Tenn. Chastain crossed the median and crashed into a vehicle driven by Leonard and Nancy Heavrin, who were decapitated. The Indiana couple were on their way to visit family in Georgia and then Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Lawyers for the Heavrins’ family claimed Firestone and Bridgestone were negligent because cost-cutting measures at a Decatur, Ill., plant that manufactured the Firestone Steeltex Radial R4S II tire resulted in substandard tires being produced. Firestone recalled the tires and the plant was eventually closed.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed but the Heavrins’ family sought compensatory and punitive damages.
The tire was manufactured at the same plant that was the target of a massive tire recall in 2000 after the National Transportation and Safety Administration found very high failure rates on Firestone tires found on several Ford models.