Opening statements expected Wednesday morning in tire death case

posted on:
January 7, 2003


Opening statements are set for Wednesday morning in the trial of two companies being sued in the tire blowout and wreck that killed civil rights leader Earl Shinhoster.

Attorneys for Shinhoster’s widow, Ruby Shinhoster, and for Bridgestone-Firestone and Ford completed questioning of potential jurors Tuesday night. Macon County Circuit Judge Howard Bryan said attorneys will pick 16 jurors, including four alternates, to hear the trial first thing Wednesday morning.

Shinhoster, a veteran NAACP official in Atlanta, was killed in the June 11, 2000, accident on an Alabama interstate as he traveled in a speeding motorcade that included the first lady of Liberia.

Originally joining in the suit were Samimah Aziz, a goddaughter of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Ademah Hackshaw of Atlanta, who was driving the Ford Explorer in which Shinhoster and Aziz were passengers. Aziz suffered serious injuries and Hackshaw minor injuries when the Explorer overturned on Interstate 85 near Tuskegee.

Ford and Bridgestone-Firestone settled with Aziz and Hackshaw on Monday as jury selection was beginning. Attorneys have declined to discuss the settlement, including how much money is involved, because Bryan has ordered them not to talk to the media until the trial ends.

The companies did not settle with Ruby Shinhoster. The jury picked on Wednesday will hear her case against the two companies.

Ruby Shinhoster’s attorney, Linda Henderson, and lawyers for Bridgestone-Firestone and Ford, Fred Gray and Milton Davis, questioned the 49 people in the jury pool for about five hours Tuesday. They asked questions ranging from whether potential jurors had been in a serious accident to their feelings about giant corporations.

The lawsuit is one of many that have been filed in accidents involving alleged failure of Firestone tires and Ford Explorer…

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