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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Apr 5, 2013

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Steve North, Madison, Tennessee, for the appellants, Dhyanna Muro Ramirez and Sacramento Baez Flores.

Attorneys 2:

Douglas S. Johnston, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellants, Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Bricio Yanez Islas, Francisco Zuno Perez, Gabriella Arellano Medina, Ivan Hillman Chapoy and Estanislao Amezcua Sanchez.

James F. Sanders and A. Scott Ross, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Bridgestone/ Firestone, Inc.

Gregory G. Garre and Roman Martinez, Washington, DC; Wade C. Crosnoe, Austin, Texas; and Stephen A. Marcum, Huntsville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Ford Motor Company.

Judge(s): SUSANO

These personal injury cases against Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., and Ford Motor Company (collectively “the Defendants”) were consolidated below for all pre-trial proceedings. They have been before this court twice before, first pursuant to a Tenn. R. App. P. 10 extraordinary appeal and later by way of a Tenn. R. App. P. 9 interlocutory appeal. They have generated two published opinions. In re Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford Motor Company Tire Litigation, 138 S.W.3d 202 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2003), perm. app. den. Jun. 1, 2004 (“Firestone I”); In re Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford Motor Company Litigation, 286 S.W.3d 898 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2008), perm. app. den. Mar. 23, 2009 (“Firestone II”). In Firestone I, we held that these cases should have been filed in Mexico. We dismissed them on the ground of forum non conveniens. In Firestone II, we held that unsuccessful attempts to file in Mexico could possibly establish that Mexico was not an available alternative forum, contrary to the assumption made by us in Firestone I. We remanded the cases for a hearing on the issue of whether the dismissals in Mexico took place in spite of the plaintiffs’ good faith efforts or, rather, occurred because of the plaintiffs’ manipulation of the cases in order to secure the dismissals in Mexico and thereby have an excuse to refile in Tennessee. The trial court dismissed eight of 26 pending cases. The cases that were dismissed fall into two distinct groups. One group involves tires (“the FR 480 tire cases”), specifically Firestone 480 tires, that were actually manufactured in Mexico. The trial court concluded that the failure to join the entity in Mexico that actually made the tires there showed that the plaintiffs in those cases should not be permitted to litigate whether Mexico was an available forum. The other group consists of two cases which were filed in Mexico on more than one occasion, only one of which was disclosed in discovery (“the Ramirez and Flores cases”). The plaintiffs in both groups (collectively “the Plaintiffs”) appeal. We affirm.