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The first Ford Explorer rollover trial is to begin today in Brownsville, Texas, with the selection of jurors. The suit is brought by the family of Margarita Gonzalez, who died after tread separation on her Firestone tire-equipped 1998 Explorer led to an accident in July of last year. The auto-maker is expected to argue that the puncture of an inadequately repaired tire, rather than the design of its SUV, was at fault in Gonzalez's death. Firestone already has paid an undisclosed sum to her survivors and is not a party to the case. Ford so far has avoided the courtroom by settling 200 lawsuits alleging that the design of its Explorer leads to such accidents. Among them: a case brought by the family of Dr. Joel Rodriguez in which the automaker paid $6 million. In the same case, heard in federal court in nearby McAllen, Texas, Firestone paid $7.5 million on Aug. 24 to the Rodriguez family.


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