Ford/Firestone Rollover Deaths

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Ford Motor Company Pages: 12 (4806 words) Published: August 23, 2009
Case Details:
Describe in detail the illegal/unethical behavior you will be analyzing in your case analysis. You may choose any case of interest from your text or the news. In 2001, more than 175 deaths and 700 injuries in the United States were the result of Ford Explorers rolling over after the tread separated on Firestone tires with which the Explorers had been equipped. Firestone’s Wilderness AT tires were standard with Ford Explorers in 2000. Since Ford Explorer SUVs had a much higher center of gravity and were more prone to rollover than many other types of vehicles. As a result tire failure became an especially dangerous situation which led to devastating rollover accidents. At the time, it was considered the most spectacular corporate crack-up in recent memory. Firestone CEO John Lampe brought the tiremaker's 95-year-old business with Ford Motor Co. to a screeching halt over what Lampe called "significant concerns" about the safety of the Ford Explorer. Then Ford said it would replace 13 million Firestone Wilderness AT tires that had been excluded from Firestone's sweeping 6.5 million tire recall the previous August. Firestone admitted that those tires were no good but maintained that everything else on the road at the time was safe. Ford disagreed as Ford boss Jacques Nasser, stated, "We simply do not have enough confidence in the future performance of these tires keeping our customers safe." Both companies attempted to pin the damage on the other. State and federal investigators as well as attorneys for the victims of Explorer rollovers cheered the split, because it enabled them to pit one company against the other in court. Accidents involving Firestone-equipped Explorers had accounted for most of the at least 174 deaths and more than 700 injuries that prompted Firestone to recall its 15-in. SUV tire. Ford faced hundreds of lawsuits that sought damages totaling more than $590 million, and the company braced for a report on the tire failures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Investigators in Florida, led the inquiry on behalf of all 50 state attorneys general, believe that Ford and Firestone share blame. It was believed that "If they already knew they had these problems, why did they put an inferior tire on this vehicle? The problem you have here is lawyers and the marketing department overruled the safety recommendations of engineers." What was not in dispute was that some Firestone 15-in. Wilderness AT tires produced at its plant in Decatur, Ill had defects that were implicated in tread separations and rollover accidents. Many of the accidents occurred in hot regions, such as Florida and Texas and the Middle East. And no one denied that SUVs rolled over more frequently than traditional autos. But that was pretty much it for points of agreement. Ford insists that Explorers fitted with Goodyear tires had experienced far fewer tread problems than those equipped with Firestone’s. Firestone stated that the same tire that shredded on an Explorer held up just fine on Ford Rangers. It was pretty much concluded that while neither Ford Explorers nor Firestone tires had been unusually dangerous in their own right, the combination of the two had proven lethal. Background:

Identify the key stakeholders in the case and the impact of operational/ethical issues on the stakeholders
Stakeholder is defined as a person, group, organization, or system that affects or can be affected by an organization's actions. The key stakeholders in this case were Ford, Firestone, consumers, the public and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 and is headquarter in Detroit, MI. At the time, it employed 380,000 employees at 140 factories worldwide, including two that make Explorers in St. Louis and Louisville, Ky. Ford was the world's biggest producer of trucks and the second-biggest...

References: can be used for the following:
Kubasek, Brennan and Browne, The Legal Environment of Business, various chapters
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