A Montgomery lawyer will ask a vehicle safety company to recall 15,000 defective seat belts, despite the company’s contention the buckles meet federal safety guidelines.

Trial lawyer Jere Beasley said he has asked Indiana Mills & Manufacturing Inc. to replace the defective seat belts on tractor-trailer trucks currently being driven throughout the country. Indiana Mills “develops, tests, and manufactures safety systems for the heavy truck” industry, according to the company’s Web site.

Beasley’s request comes after his client, the family of Joe Freeman Jr., settled for an undisclosed amount with Indiana Mills on Monday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Freeman, a truck driver for Evergreen Forest Products, died when he was ejected from his tractor-trailer in 2005 on U.S. 31 in Butler County. He would have survived if his seat belt had worked, Beasley contends, adding that Indiana Mills replaced defective seat belts on more than 20 of Evergreen Forest Product’s trucks after Freeman’s death.

A spokesman for the Westfield, Ind.-based company, Steve Davis, said the buckles are safe.

“The buckle in question is in compliance with and meets all applicable federal standards,” he said.

Beasley said the company has made no attempt to notify the owners of the trucks equipped with the defective buckles. But he did say the company has issued a “silent” recall on the buckles, meaning they would be replaced if the truck’s owner requests a new one.

“If they refuse to (recall the seat belts), we’re going to make a formal demand they do it,” Beasley said.

He said if the company refuses, he would notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The government should be on top of this—it shouldn’t be me,” Beasley said.



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