LOS ANGELES (Jan. 24)—Opening statements began today in Los Angeles County Superior Court in a product liability lawsuit which accuses Continental General Tire Inc. of knowingly manufacturing defective tires and covering up that knowledge. Cynthia Lampe, 30, was rendered quadriplegic in June 1996 when a General Ameri*Tech steel-belted radial on her Ford Taurus came apart, causing her to lose control and the vehicle to flip over. Brian Panish, Lampe´s attorney, said in a news release that he has testimony from Conti General workers saying there were "routine failures to follow quality control procedures" at the Mount Vernon, Ill., plant where the tire was made. Panish also claims Conti General "delayed in implementing low-cost design changes that they knew would save lives" and pressured managers "to falsify inspection records and operate the plant at 103 percent above capability." Lampe seeks unspecified damages. Conti General could not be reached for comment.