Tragic Death Results in Lawsuit Against Honda & Takata


Tragic Death Results in Lawsuit Against Honda & Takata

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Law firm Press Release states:“On January 18, 2015, Carlos Solis, IV was driving a 2002 Honda Accord in Spring, Texas when he was involved in a minor wreck with another car. The driver side airbag engaged and inflated in the collision. A large piece of metal from the airbag inflator exploded through the airbag. The shrapnel entered Solis’s neck, severed his carotid artery and jugular vein, fractured his windpipe, and lodged in his shoulder and cervical spine. The lawsuit details these findings from the autopsy by the Harris County Medical Examiner, who retrieved the metal disc from the body and described it as “foreign object (air bag inflator component).” The metal went so deep no one responding at the scene could see or feel it.  Scott Solis, the brother of Carlos, came and attempted to apply pressure to the wound and comfort his brother as he bled and eventually died….”  “Solis’s car was bought used in 2014 at a Houston area car dealer. While the car had been recalled in late 2011, it had never been repaired. Solis never received any notice of any need for repairs.”  See http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lawsuit-against-honda-and-takata-alleges-defective-airbag-caused-drivers-gruesome-death-300046263.html

Legislators Press Release:

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

Josh Zembik (Blumenthal) 202-224-6452

 

Markey & Blumenthal Introduce Legislation to Ensure Safety Recalls Are More Quickly Completed

Legislation would require state DMVs inform vehicle owners of recalls to ensure timely repairs

 

Washington (March 2, 2015) – It was a year of record motor vehicle safety recalls in 2014, with approximately 64 million vehicle recalls and service campaigns due to potentially deadly safety defects, including the GM ignition switch and Takata exploding airbag defects. In response to this deadly wave of accidents and recalls, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today introduced legislation that would require state Departments of Motor Vehicles and state motor vehicle registration agencies to notify vehicle owners of open safety recalls to help ensure that owners get the safety recalls remedied. The Repairing Every Car to Avoid Lost Lives (RECALL) Act is similar to requirements to obtain emissions testing or insurance prior to registration or registration renewal by many states, and it is an effective way to ensure that vehicle owners are aware of and comply with their safety recalls. Studies estimate that only 65 percent of recalled vehicles get fixed within the first 18 months of being recalled, and one in every seven vehicles on American roadways – upwards of 34 million cars and trucks – has an unfixed recall.

 

“This legislation represents the three R’s of automotive safety: recall, repair, register,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.“We need to inform all vehicle owners of open safety recalls and ensure repairs get made quickly so our roads are kept safe. The RECALL Act will help prevent any more avoidable deaths from unrepaired recalls. I thank Senator Blumenthal for his partnership on this legislation and look forward to continuing to work with Chairman Thune and our colleagues to enact strong auto safety legislation to protect American families.”

 

“Unrepaired safety defects endanger everyone on America’s roadways. Important recall notices can get bogged down with legalese, and busy consumers can miss a lifesaving update,” said Senator Blumenthal. “This legislation provides a common-sense avenue to ensure every driver is reminded and encouraged to make the necessary repairs and keep unsafe cars off the roads.”

 

A copy of the RECALL Act can be found HERE.

 

“Senators Markey and Blumenthal’s initiative will help us all achieve the critical goal of completing 100 percent of every automotive recall campaign in America. We believe the process of vehicle registration is a logical point to require an additional check for any open safety recalls in order to ensure that repairs are completed,” said Rick Schostek, Executive Vice President of Honda North America, Inc. “When it comes to ensuring that safety-related recalls are completed, automakers, government and concerned citizens need to work together to protect drivers, passengers and others on the road.  Everyone has an important stake in making sure these vehicles are repaired.”

 

“Based on my personal experience, I am committed to finding ways to make certain that every vehicle owner is aware of and addresses open recalls,” said Stephanie Erdman, a Florida resident who was seriously injured in 2002 by a Takata airbag inflator. “This proposal significantly increases the likelihood this will occur.”

 

NHTSA Administrator Rosekind Addresses Consumer Federation of America (3/13/15)


NHTSA Administrator Rosekind Addresses Consumer Federation of America (3/13/15)

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

C-Span video coverage including Q & A at:http://www.c-span.org/video/?324815-1/discussion-consumer-privacy-protection

Administrator’s prepared remarks attached and at:http://www.nhtsa.gov/Speeches

Advocates Jackie Gillan’s Introduction of Administrator Rosekind attached.
Lou

 

GM Pays to Protect Mary Barra & Other GM Executives


GM Pays to Protect Mary Barra & Other GM Executives

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The NY Times reports:“In a notable victory for General Motors, a lawsuit that helped spur the biggest safety crisis in the company’s history has been withdrawn in exchange for a settlement from its compensation program, according to two people briefed on the agreement.

The lawsuit was the second brought by the family of a Georgia woman, Brooke Melton, who died in 2010 in a car with a faulty ignition switch that has now been linked to at least 64 deaths.

For G.M., the agreement removes the significant legal threat of senior officials, including Mary T. Barra, the automaker’s chief executive, being questioned under oath about the company’s failure for years to recall the defective vehicles.

It was depositions in the Meltons’ first lawsuit that exposed the dangerous flaw in millions of small cars.

“The attorneys for the Melton family may have uncovered additional information that suggested G.M. did too little to protect consumer safety,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who has been closely following G.M. safety issues.”

“The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. A G.M. spokesman confirmed that the case had been resolved, but declined to provide other details.”   See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/14/business/general-motors-ignition-flaw-victim-settlement.html?hpw&rref=automobiles&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0
Who has the monetary resources of GM (much of which was and is provided by U.S. taxpayers)to protect all other crash victims? Past, present, and future crash victims?
Politically?
Legally?
The scales of Justice are skewed.  Unlimited corporate money on one side and very limited money on the side of crash victims.   The result: lives will continue to be lost and damaged needlessly far into the future of America – and the world.
Lou  

 

President Obama and Secretary Foxx Announce Grow America Bill – Crash Deaths To Grow


President Obama and Secretary Foxx Announce Grow America Bill – Crash Deaths To Grow

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Obama Administration proposes endless tragic years ahead for Americans.

Please read this DOT Announcement and watch this DOT video at http://www.dot.gov/grow-america

Can you hear or read the word “safety”?

“The FY 2016 budget proposes $478 billion funding for a 6-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal that invests in modernizing our infrastructure.”  

Buried in a more detailed list of this proposal there is a document on improving safety updated yesterday at http://www.dot.gov/grow-america/fact-sheets/safety
It notes: “In 2013, vehicle crashes killed 32,719 Americans and injured more than 2.3 million people.”
Let’s compare the deaths and dollars proposed with the DOT Policy Guidance on valuing deaths and injuries in dollars.  The DOT Policy for 2013 attached places a value of $9.1 million. “On the basis of the best available evidence, this guidance identifies $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life to be used for Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of preventing fatalities and using abase year of 2012.”
So if DOT Secretary Foxx had taken out a calculator and multiplied the 2013 fatalities of 32,719 crash deaths times the $9.1 million in the DOT Guidelines he would find the math to amount to $297 billion.
So how does that $297 billion in one year compare with the $478 billion, or $80 billion per year, that he is proposing over the next six years?
If the number of deaths continue over the next 6 years at about 32,000 per year (as I expect is likely) another 192,000 Americans will die of crash injuries.  And our crash death clock will exceed 3,855,000 American crash deaths.  See https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/clock.php
In our Declaration of Independence it stated that “it is the Right of the People to alter …as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety”
The Obama Administration’s current proposal is “Unsafe” – far less safe than it needs to be.
Lou

 

DOT “Sees” No Problem on Guard Rail Hazards


DOT “Sees” No Problem on Guard Rail Hazards

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

DOT, with our tax dollars and with Highway lobby support, says to the American people: RIP.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/business/federal-agency-finds-no-evidence-that-trinity-industries-altered-design-of-its-guardrails.html?ref=business

Nader and Ditlow were right.  On deadly roads too.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/opinion/weak-oversight-deadly-cars.html

The DOT and the Highway lobby partner to give a unique meaning to Vision Zero.   

“From Secretary Foxx:
Today, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) joined the National Strategy on Highway Safety Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) effort, a vision for eliminating fatalities on the nation’s roadways.
AASHTO has long been a valued partner the Department, and this aggressive approach to safety —DOT’s number one priority— will only strengthen that partnership…”

See http://www.transportation.gov/fastlane/tzd

If Secretary Foxx and his team have their eyes on the Revolving Door, it would be difficult to “see” Guard Rail hazards. See  http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/02/25/nhtsa-revolving-door-cronyism-highway-column/23966219/

Lou

 


Mothers’ Work to Advance 15 Passenger Van Safety Was, and Still Is, Needed

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
Victory of Caring Mothers Isabelle Hains & Stella Gurr

Mothers who lost sons in 15 Passenger Van crashes explain the significance of their success in changing Canadian law. “The mothers say the introduction of the new definition provides school boards, commercial bus operators and the general public with an alternate choice of vehicle that offers a similar high safety standard as a yellow school bus.

Many school districts across Canada still use 15-passenger vans. The mothers are concerned that this may continue unless all the provinces and territories decide to use only yellow school buses and MFSAB’s to transport students to after school activities. 

Prohibiting the use of 15-passenger vans for extra curricular activities is a provincial/territorial responsibility. They are asking for a mandatory Van Angels law across Canada that permits only yellow school buses or Multifunction School Activity Buses for students participating in after school activities.

“Like many other Canadians I knew nothing about the serious safety concerns associated with 15 passenger vans until my son was killed,” says Hains. “I had to educate myself and had to push and fight for changes to safe student transportation.”

Hains says “Parents with children in the school system need to know there is now an alternative to 15 passenger vans that is built to the high yellow school bus standard.”

Gurr adds that with the new definition there should be no confusion when consumers want to be sure that they are purchasing a type of vehicle that meets very strict US and Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for a school bus body build.

“It will be clearly identified on the vehicle certification label; ‘School Bus’ or ‘MFSAB’,” says Stella Gurr….”  

“Since 2010 the Van Angel mothers has managed to accomplish a review of the 15-passenger van for student transportation and national distribution of a brochure called Safety Guidelines for the use of 15-Passenger Vans, as well as the introduction of the MFSAB in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.”  See  http://www.autoserviceworld.com/news/van-angels-call-changes-to-motor-vehicle-act-a-lasting-legacy-for-their-sons/1003524435/?&er=NA

And https://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-hainsgurr.php

The years of efforts to prevent tragedies by the VanAngels are still needed because 15 Passenger Vans continue to transport students and church groups.  As shown in the 60 Minutes video the rollover dangers are real and major.
Tragedies Will Continue Hundreds of thousands of 15 Passenger Vans are still on the U.S. roads (564,000 vehicles in 2007 see attached NHTSA report 811143). Additional resources are as follows:

 
 
As weather turns warmer and worn tires fail Americans will suffer more tragic fatal and permanently injurious 15 Passenger Van crashes in the U.S.  
NHTSA Needs To Do More and Better
At the very least, NHTSA should issue a public education warning now on 15 Passenger Vans.  NHTSA could create a PSA video and go further than their Advisory issued 3 years ago.  See http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/2012/Consumer+Advisory:+NHTSA+Offers+Tips+for+Safe+Travel+in+15-Passenger+Vans
NHTSA needs to be more specific in its Advisory.  NHTSA must make it actionable not vague.   *  No more than 9 passengers is more actionable than “Vehicle weight should never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating”. *  Tires no older than 3 years is more actionable than “Replace old tires. Check the vehicle owner’s manual for correct size.”
*   Drivers should have commercial licenses is more actionable than Driver should be well trained and experienced”.
*   Limit Driving Time to 3 hours to prevent Drowsy Driving is more actionable than Rest well. Fatigue can affect driving and response time”.
NHTSA should publish fatalities in 15 passenger vans every year by auto maker to spur corporate competition to advance safety.
DOT can help States post warnings on electronic highway signs.  NHTSA should publish fatalities involving 15 passenger vans by State and by year.  Many will be in Red States where climate is hotter and tire failures occur more often.  This is important to get more bi-partisan support in Congress.
Congressional support, direction and oversight are necessary, but not always sufficient, for safety progress.  See http://www.nhtsa.gov/nhtsa/Cfc_title49/MotorVehicleSafetyProvisions.html
Note the number of people who died in Rollover crashes and recognize that NHTSA supported GM’s funding of CDC to remove “Rollover and Extrication” from the triage guidelines.  Seehttps://www.careforcrashvictims.com/assets/MRDec-AmericanVictims.pdf

NHTSA can and must do better protecting Americans now, please.
If NHTSA does not do so, people and their representatives should ask: What is holding NHTSA back?
Lou

 

More GM Depositions Ahead


More GM Depositions Ahead

March, 2015

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

NY Times reports: While General Motors has settled one potentially explosive lawsuit related to defective ignition switches, the company still faces the possibility of depositions of its employees in a broader class-action case.

A number of current and former G.M. employees are scheduled to be questioned under oath, beginning in May, in a sweeping case in federal court in New York.

G.M. avoided depositions in the wrongful-death case settled last week with the parents of Brooke Melton, 29, a Georgia woman who was killed in a crash in a Chevrolet Cobalt equipped with a faulty ignition switch.

But the lawyers who represented Ms. Melton’s parents said on Monday that legal efforts to collect internal G.M. documents and depose employees would continue nonetheless.”  See

The Detroit Free Press reports:GM still faces more than 100 lawsuits seeking lost economic value of vehicles equipped with the defective ignition switch and other parts that led to recalls. Most of those have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in New York.

The automaker has argued that its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring included a condition protecting it from product liability claims over vehicles produced before it exited bankruptcy. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber is expected to rule on that issue in coming months.

Cooper told reporters that documents from those “lost economic value” could shed new light on what and when GM knew of the ignition-switch defect and whether senior executives, including CEO Mary Barra, knew about it before December 2013.

An independent investigation conducted by former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas was very critical of GM’s handling of the ignition-switch crisis. But it concluded that Barra and other senior executives didn’t learn of the problem’s scope until shortly before GM began recalling about 2.5 million small cars in February 2014.

Feinberg’s fund added three claims as of Friday, bringing the total to 67 death claims and 113 personal injury claims eligible for compensation. He and his staff have received 4,343 claims, and 1,492 are still under review.”  Seehttp://www.freep.com/story/money/2015/03/16/general-motors-ignition-switch-deaths/24847701/