A Maple Grove man has sued Ford Motor Co., Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and Tousley Ford for injuries from a rollover crash in a Ford Explorer equipped with Wilderness AT tires.

The allegedly dangerous combination has already resulted in the recall of 6.5 million Wilderness ATX tires a year ago, the voluntary withdrawal from the market of the Wilderness AT line, numerous lawsuits across the country and the breakup of a relationship between Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone.

Adam Burrows, 18, was riding in the front passenger seat as his brother drove the family home from an early Easter celebration April 22, 2000, with relatives in northern Minnesota. His brother, Benjamin, swerved to avoid a deer and the vehicle rolled over into a ditch alongside the road.

Adam Burrows is confined to a wheelchair and has limited use of his arms. He was in a hospital from the date of the crash until Aug. 31, when he moved to Courage Center for 10 months of physical therapy and rehabilitation. He has been home since June 29, where his mother, Sheryl, provides his daily care and returns to Courage Center for continuing therapy three times a week.

“His sister had a concussion, but we didn’t know that till she started having headaches a few days later,” said Randy Burrows, Adam Burrows’ father. “His mother had bruises, but nothing serious — no bones broken.”

A complaint filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court claims Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone and the local dealership were negligent on 24 different points, including design flaws in the vehicle’s stability, handling and rollover resistance; failure to train dealers in the dangers associated with the vehicle; and failure to tell prospective buyers of known defects in the vehicles.

Greg McEwen, a St. Paul lawyer representing Adam Burrows, said at least one other lawsuit over the Explorer-Wilderness AT combination has been filed in Minnesota.

Dick and Vange Anderson, of Solway, also served the companies and a Bemidji dealer with lawsuits this week after their 17-year-old daughter, Amy, was killed in a rollover last July, said McEwen.

While both Firestone and Ford have settled many of the claims against them for rollovers, the first Firestone trial resulting from such a lawsuit is scheduled to begin next week in Texas.

Ford spokeswoman Kathleen Vokes said data from the National Highway Safety Administration verify that the Explorer is “one of the safest vehicles on the road.” While claims about the Explorer and tires together haven’t gone to trial, she said the Explorer’s design has been tried in two cases, and both juries found the vehicle to be safe.

Bridgestone/Firestone said in a statement that “accidents happen for a number of reasons. What specifically happened here will be addressed in the judicial process.”

St. Paul Pioneer – Lucy Quinlivan – August 2001

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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