Montgomery – Jury selection is expected to begin in the trial of a lawsuit that accuses Bridgestone-Firestone and Ford Motor Co. of causing the wreck that killed civil rights leader Earl Shinhoster.

Shinhoster, a former NAACP acting executive director in Atlanta, and Samimah Aziz were passengers in a Ford Explorer that crashed June 11, 2000, on Interstate 85 near Tuskegee. Aziz was seriously injured.

The Ford Explorer was part of a security motorcade – traveling 80 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone – that was carrying Shinhoster to Montgomery. Traveling in another vehicle in the motorcade was first lady of Nigeria, Jewel Howard-Taylor.

The lawsuit was filed by Shinhoster’s widow, Ruby Shinhoster, and by Aziz, a goddaughter of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. It claims the accident occurred when the tire on the Explorer blew out and “disintegrated” and that Bridgestone-Firestone knew the tire was defective. The lawsuit also claims that Ford was at fault because of defects that the plaintiffs say caused the vehicle to roll over after the accident.

Attorneys are expected to begin selecting a jury this morning in Tuskegee as the trial begins before Macon County Circuit Judge Howard Bryan.



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