Proposed Cooper Tire Settlement of Little Use to Tire Owners

Jan. 15, 2002

Proposed Cooper Tire Settlement of Little Use to Tire Owners

Public Citizen Files Objections in Class Action Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Public Citizen today filed objections to a proposed class action settlement in a case against Cooper Tire & Rubber Company because the settlement would be of little value to tire owners.

The class action lawsuit was filed in late 2000 on behalf of Cooper tire owners over manufacturing practices that increased the possibility of tire and belt separations. In a summary of objections filed in Superior Court of New Jersey, Public Citizen, representing two tire owners, outlined the flaws in the proposed settlement:

A proposal to provide free replacement tires would do little to ensure the tires are safe. Tire owners would probably receive another Cooper tire, and only if their existing tire separates. This presents an unacceptable risk to tire owners.

The settlement gives Cooper too much latitude to decide which tires to replace.

A proposed alternative dispute resolution system for those who qualify for and do not want a replacement tire is too vague and does not adequately explain to tire owners what they should do or what relief they might recover.

A proposed finishing inspection program, in which tires would be inspected at the end of the manufacturing process, will do nothing to rectify the manufacturing defects and quality control lapses at issue in the suit. Similarly, a proposed consumer education program would be of little benefit to current or future Cooper tire owners.

The proposed attorney fees — $30 million — are “grossly out of proportion” to the remedy that would be afforded tire owners.

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