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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A federal appeals court Tuesday reinstated a defamation suit brought by Suzuki Motor Corp. against the publisher of Consumer Reports for saying the Suzuki Samurai rolls over too easily.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling 2-1, said a jury should determine whether Consumers Union rigged its testing for a published report labeling the sport utility vehicle ``not acceptable.'' The magazine first reported in 1988 that the Samurai ``rolls over too easily.''

Two years ago, a federal judge in California dismissed the case, ruling that Suzuki had not sufficiently supported its claim that the magazine acted maliciously to damage the reputation of the Samurai.

But the appeals court said that a jury should weigh for itself allegations the magazine rigged the driving test to reach a predetermined conclusion, and that it published its results with reckless disregard as to whether they were true.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency declined to declare the vehicle defective and said the magazine's test procedures for the Suzuki ``do not have a scientific basis,'' Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote.

Tashima also said a federal jury should consider whether the magazine's motives were profit-driven, given that it reprinted its original 1988 story in fund-raising solicitations while it was in ``substantial debt.''

In a dissent, Judge Warren J. Ferguson said there was insufficient evidence for the case to proceed. Blocking a trial, Ferguson wrote, was ``necessary to both avoid the inhibition of free speech by the media and to protect public safety and health.''

Consumer Reports spokeswoman Linda Wagner had no immediate comment. Nor did a Suzuki representative.