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Roberts & Roberts on CNN.com

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Aired September 6, 2000 – 1:22 p.m. ET

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: “Time” magazine senior correspondent Michael Weisskopf is with us this afternoon, helping us cover this story. He contributed to the current issue’s story on Bridgestone/Firestone, “Anatomy of a Recall,”  in the current issue of “Time” magazine.

Michael, it’s fascinating that, as you — you write a car accident involving a 14-year-old girl on October of 1998 has now led to this impressive committee room that we’re seeing this afternoon and the congressional testimony by the chairman of these two companies. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of how this evolved?

MICHAEL WEISSKOPF, “TIME” SR. CORRESPONDENT: You know, we may not even be here now — we may not even realize the extent of this problem, if not for this aggressive small-town Texas lawyer by the name of Randy Roberts. He represents the parents of this 14-year-old girl. And they did not want to settle this case financially. Their main goal was to get the tires off the road.

He pressed a judge from another small town to give him a full accounting from Firestone of all the complaints and all the lawsuits filed against Firestone’s tires over the years.

Firestone, of course, fought it, claiming there is nothing wrong with the tires, as it often does.

Finally, Roberts won and what he got was huge cache of complaints, more than 1100, 57 lawsuits, much wider than anyone realized, including NHTSA, the federal auto safety regulators. He got in touch with NHTSA, gave them the tip off, and off and running was that federal agency.

*This version does not reflect the complete CNN program.

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