Twenty-Nine More Deaths Are Reported In Investigation of Recalled Firestone Tires
                    December 6, 2000

                    A WSJ.COM News Roundup

                    WASHINGTON -- Twenty-nine more deaths have been reported in the
                    government's investigation into the safety of Firestone tires, including
                    four fatalities that occurred in accidents since the tire maker's August

                                         The National Highway Traffic Safety
                                         Administration has reports of 148 deaths
                                         involving tread separations, blowouts and other
                                         problems involving Firestone tires. That is up
                                         from 119 deaths reported as of Oct. 17, the
                                         last time NHTSA updated the numbers.

                                         A NHTSA spokesman said Wednesday there
                                         have been more than 4,300 complaints about
                                         the tires, including more than 525 injuries.

                                         Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. recalled 6.5 million
                                         ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires on Aug. 9
                                         as reports of accidents involving tire failures
                                         mounted. The latest summary includes the first
                                         reports of deaths since the recall -- three
                                         reported to NHTSA by the company and one
                    collected by the agency independently.

                    Not all the deaths that have been reported involve the recalled tires.
                    Five of the latest fatalities reportedly involve tires included in a
                    consumer advisory issued by the agency, but not under recall by the

                    NHTSA investigators issued the advisory Sept. 1, warning consumers
                    that 1.4 million Firestone tires not under recall had a high failure rate
                    and could pose a safety problem. Bridgestone/Firestone has since
                    agreed to also replace those tires at no cost for customers who ask,
                    but they are not included in the safety-recall campaign.

                    Bridgestone/Firestone officials weren't available for comment.

                    Besides the deaths being investigated by U.S. authorities, the tires have
                    also been linked to at least seven deaths in the Middle East and 46 in

                    Most of the tires under recall were used as original equipment on the
                    Ford Explorer, and many of the deaths occurred when the tires failed
                    and an Explorer rolled over.

                    Ford, Bridgestone/Firestone and NHTSA are investigating what can
                    cause the tread to peel off the tire, sometimes as the vehicle is traveling
                    at highway speeds, but have yet to announce their conclusions.

                    NHTSA is hoping to finish its probe in the next three months. It has the
                    power to order an expanded recall if it determines other tires are not

                    On Tuesday, Bridgestone said it would set aside $450 million this year
                    to cover damage claims against its U.S. Firestone unit and flatly rejected
                    a media report that lawsuits over allegedly faulty tires could bankrupt
                    the U.S. subsidiary.

                    Meanwhile, Firestone and Ford Motor Co. said they reached an
                    undisclosed settlement with the family of a Tennessee woman killed last
                    July in a sport utility vehicle accident.

                    Trina Thurman Adams was killed when the 1994 Ford Explorer her
                    husband was driving spun out of control, rolled over, and ejected her
                    from the vehicle. The Ford had Firestone tires. The $60-million wrongful
                    death case -- the second lawsuit against the companies -- was
                    scheduled for trial this week in Yazoo County, Miss.

                    The first lawsuit was in Texas where Ryan Anthony Guillen, 21 years
                    old, and his sister, Kimberly Guillen, 18, sued the tire manufacturer last
                    November after their mother and stepfather were killed in an accident.

                    About 160 cases from around the U.S., many of them involving
                    allegations of injury or death, have been consolidated in federal court in
                    Indianapolis. Many allege that the tire recall wasn't broad enough to
                    include all defective models.

                    Bridgestone's president, Yoichiro Kaizaki, firmly denied a newspaper
                    report that legal claims against Nashville-based Bridgestone/Firestone
                    Inc. may reach $50 billion and force the U.S. company to fold its

                    Bridgestone/Firestone "is not in a state of insolvency" and has no plans
                    to file for bankruptcy, Mr. Kaizaki said. "We have not even considered
                    such a thing," he said at a news conference in Tokyo.

                    Mr. Kaizaki said Bridgestone would continue to support Firestone to
                    help it recover from the Aug. 9 recall, but refused to elaborate on how
                    Bridgestone calculated its $450 million estimate for legal damages,
                    saying only that "our accountants and lawyers assure us this will be
                    enough to cover damage awards."

                    The estimate would bring total costs related to the recall for
                    Bridgestone to $900 million for this year, Mr. Kaizaki said. Bridgestone
                    had already announced that replacing recalled tires with new ones would
                    cost $450 million. Firestone has reserves to easily cover the costs, Mr.
                    Kaizaki said.

                    In addition to the direct costs, Firestone has suffered from bad publicity
                    surrounding the recall. Last month, Bridgestone said sales of Firestone
                    replacement tires for cars and light trucks fell about 40% in the U.S. in
                    September and October from a year earlier.