Anatomy of a Recall

How a small-town lawsuit in Texas cascaded into the biggest consumer panic since the Tylenol scare, plaguing Firestone and Ford with allegations of factory flaws and design errors

When Randy Roberts first took the case, he knew the odds of embarking on yet another battle against a corporate Goliath. A small-town lawyer from East Texas, Roberts was representing the parents of a 14-year-old girl, Jessica LeAnn Taylor, a junior high school cheerleader who died in a car accident Oct. 16, 1998, on the way to a homecoming football game outside her hometown of Mexia, Texas. A friend of Taylor's mother was driving that day, and as the tread on the left-rear Firestone ATX tire allegedly peeled off like a banana, the Ford Explorer SUV veered left and rolled over.

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