Partial settlement reached in activist’s death

posted on:
January 7, 2003

author:
Bob Johnson

Bridgestone-Firestone and Ford Motor Co. settled a lawsuit Monday with two people injured in a wreck that killed civil rights leader Earl Shinhoster.

The companies did not settle with Shinhoster’s widow, Ruby Shinhoster, and the trial of her claims will continue today selection of a jury to hear the wrongful death case.

Attorneys and others involved would not comment about the settlement because Macon County Circuit Judge Howard Bryan placed them under a gag order until the trial is over.

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.

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.

Aziz and Hackshaw reached an agreement with Ford and Firestone on Monday after settlement meetings that began last week resumed.

Aziz, who walks with a cane because of the accident, got word of the settlement as attorneys came into the courtroom and congratulated her. She then went outside and hugged family members, friends and her attorneys.

Bryan then sent potential jurors home for the night with instructions to return at 1:30 p.m. today.

As settlement talks were under way in private, Bryan began questioning the mostly black pool of potential jurors to hear the suit filed by the wife of Shinhoster, who was acting executive director of the National Association of Colored People in the mid 1990s.

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