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43 N. Y. L. Sch. L. Rev. 895 (1999)
Litigation Public Relations: The Provisional Remedy of the Communications World

handle is hein.journals/nyls43 and id is 907 raw text is: LITIGATION PUBLIC RELATIONS: THE PROVISIONAL REMEDY
OF THE
COMMUNICATIONS WORLD
DEBORAH A. LILIENTHAL
I. INTRODUCTION
The 1972 Ford Pinto: sport racing mirrors, bumper guards, and
chrome lower molding. For you Pinto enthusiasts out there, note the
original gas cap. Most were replaced by unpainted chrome caps during
the Ford Motor Company gas cap upgrade. Under the hood, all original
gaskets and radiator cap. Inside, complete deluxe interior, wood grain
inserts in the door panels and dash, deluxe steering wheel, AM/FM radio,
wood grain parking brake handle, and plush seats.
Sound familiar? You are probably less familiar with the Pinto's pre-
mier engineering and luxury and more familiar with its notoriety. In
September, 1977, radical publication Mother Jones revealed internal
Ford Motor Company documents alleging that Ford deliberately and
with shocking disregard for human life, produced the Pinto, an automo-
bile it knew could turn into a burning deathtrap.' Ford's infamous
cost/benefit analysis made its way on to the front pages.
The report: Ford's internal analysis weighed the cost of a human life,
then estimated at $200,000 against the cost of fuel tank repair. The news:
Ford executives were portrayed as killers who knew they could save
lives for eleven dollars, the cost of a safe fuel tank.2 The result: within
one month, pressure from the media, Pinto owners, Ralph Nader, and the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration created the most expen-
sive auto recall in history at the time.3 And, of course, in the 1979 land-
mark case, Ford became the first American corporation-a truly dubious
distinction--ever indicted or prosecuted on criminal homicide charges.
1. Suzie Larsen, Safety Last, MOTHER JONES INTERACTrVE, at http://www.mother-
jones.com/motherjones/S077/larsen.html (Feb. 17, 1998)
2. See id.
3. See id. On June 9, 1978, the Ford Motor Company recalled 1.5 million Pintos.
See id.

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