Facts: On March 23, 2007, plaintiff Cynthia Castillo, 38, a salesperson at a hardware store, was driving a 1997 Ford Explorer on Interstate 15 in an unincorporated area of Riverside County when the tread separated on the left rear tire. The rear end of the car fishtailed, causing it to veer right and off the roadway. It then rolled over several times and struck a tree.

Castillo sustained serious injuries in the incident. Castillo sued Ford Motor Company, tire manufacturer Michelin North America Inc., and tire vendors Jaime Martinez and Alfredo Martinez, who were doing business as Corona Battery & Tire, alleging a design defect in the Ford Explorer.

All of the parties, except for Ford, were out of the case prior to trial. Plaintiff's counsel contended that the solid rear axle and outboard placement of the shock absorbers caused the vehicle to tramp and skate, which led to a loss of control as the rear tire detreaded. Plaintiff's counsel argued that when the tire detreaded it caused Castillo to lose control of the vehicle. Counsel argued that Ford knew of this condition but still did not correct the vehicle's design. Counsel presented internal memos from Ford's safety engineers to management stating that the problem could have been fixed by using stiffer shocks and moving them closer to the wheels, which would save lives.

Ford management ignored the memos, counsel claimed. Defense counsel argued that the car had 211,000 miles on it and that the shocks had never been replaced. Counsel also argued that the car had four used tires and one was incorrectly sized, which contributed to the accident. Ford also presented evidence that tread separations do not cause "skate" and that there was no defect in the design of the Explorer.

Defense counsel contended that Castillo's loss of control was due to excessive steering, which would have produced the same loss of control as any other vehicle that was steered in the same fashion. Plaintiff's counsel countered that there were 26 prior identical accidents resulting from detreading. Counsel argued that the type or size of the tires did not make a difference in the accident.

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