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Mike Danko and Susan Crane, Mother of Victim, to Testify Before California Assembly on Dangers of Old Tires

17:04 EDT Monday, April 20, 2009

SAN MATEO, Calif., April 20 - San Mateo plaintiffs' attorney Mike Danko and Susan Crane , mother of the victim of a fatal rollover caused by an old tire, will testify at 9AM on Tuesday, April 21 , before the Business and Professions Committee of the California Assembly, on behalf of a bill (AB 323) introduced by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada (D- Vacaville ) that would require automotive repair shops to inform consumers of the date a tire was manufactured. Information about the dangers of tire degradation would also have to be posted.

Mike Danko represented the Crane family in a lawsuit filed against Firestone and other defendants following an accident that took the life of 17-year old Bobby Crane . Bobby and his brother, 20-year old Joey Crane , were driving from Danville, California , to Los Angeles in the family's SUV for a vacation at the beach. Before the road trip the boys had put a little-used tire on the right rear of the vehicle and carefully inflated it. But soon after they reached the highway, the tread peeled off the tire. The SUV rolled over and Bobby was killed.

The official report concluded that the tire de-treaded because it was under-inflated. But Danko's team discovered that the tire only had 2000 miles on it and had been properly inflated. The accident itself had caused the tire to lose pressure. The smoking gun, however, was the discovery that the tire was 14 years old. The Cranes, like most American consumers, had never been warned about the dangers of using old tires.

Even though an old tire may look fine and seem to have plenty of tread, rubber oxidizes and deteriorates over time. No tire is safe to use that is more than six years old. Internal documents proved that Firestone management had known about problems with old tires since the 1970s but had never warned the public.

Firestone agreed to a confidential settlement in the case days before the trial was to begin. Many auto manufacturers now warn consumers to discard the tires that come with the car when the tires are six years old. But Assemblywoman Yamada also wants tire retailers to warn consumers about the risks, and to advise the purchaser of the date on which the tire about to be purchased was manufactured. A similar bill has been proposed by Assemblyman Mike Davis (D- Los Angeles ). Both are supported by the Consumer Attorneys of California .

"The death of Bobby Crane is especially tragic," explains Mike Danko , "because these two youngsters were trying hard to be extra-cautious in preparing for a road trip. The tire manufacturer withheld information from them that could have saved Bobby's life. Now Susan Crane and I are trying to protect other families by making sure that needless tragedies like the Cranes' never happen again."

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