The attorney general's investigation is among several starting across the country that may have been aided or prompted by a report from Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO-TV that several recalled tires were being resold.
As CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzalez reports, the station went undercover several times to five Seattle stores. Three dealers repeatedly sold used recalled tires. In some cases, customers were not told the tires were part of the recall. One dealer even installed them for free.
A Seattle store manager said eager customers bought up all the used recalled tires he had, and even though he wasn't supposed to sell them in the first place, he has no second thoughts about putting dangerous tires on the road.
"I don't feel bad because I know they're just going to take them off and trade them in," the man said.
Company spokeswoman Susan Sizemore said the company has no way to monitor whether used tire dealers are selling recalled tires already in their stock.
She said recalled tires brought to Firestone dealers for replacements are not resold to used tire dealers. "Those tires are then cut and sent for scrap and recycling," she said.
Bridgestone/Firestone is collecting its recalled tires at nine regional sites and 1,500 stores for federal documentation and then shipping them off to rubber recycling plants across the country. The company has collected 2.3 million tires so far.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it is investigating 88 deaths and more than 250 injuries over the past decade involving Firestone tires. A recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX-II and Wilderness AT tires was announced Aug. 9.
Sharon Curtis-Flair, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee attorney general, which is located in Tennessee, said that several states have ben talking to Bridgestone/Firestone about the matter.
She said she could not comment on how widespread the practice might be.
"Normally we don't comment on anything the state might be doing on any investigation, but in this case the attorney general felt that because there were deaths and injuries, it's a very serious situation," she said.
According to KIRO, an assistant Tennessee attorney general wrote to Firestone's general counsel in Nashville on Thursday, requesting information on what the company was doing to remove the recalled tires from sale as used tires.
"It has come to our attention that in the state of Washington used-tire entities were selling the recalled tires as late as today. Needless to say, this concerns us," Cynthia Kinser, a Tennessee deputy attorney general, wrote to Glenn R. Haase, Bridgestone/Firestone general counsel.
She requested a written response by Sept. 21.
Haase said Thursday night that he planned "to reply in the next few days."
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