Private litigants in auto safety defect suits should pay heed to NHTSA’s recommendations for settlement

Civil lawsuits have too often contained provisions which barred NHTSA from gaining access to vital auto safety defect information = End result being more deaths needlessly lost to same auto defects.

Those who support a Vision Zero strategy to reduce every crash death possible should take note of this information on NHTSA’s recommendations for those who are engaged in  private litigation which might be relevant to this situation. The following is a recent email bulletin from Lou Lombardo to the Care for Crash Victims Community:

Dear Care For Crash Victims Community Members:

NHTSA Notice of Guidelines Summary states:

“NHTSA’s ability to identify and define safety-related motor vehicle defects relies in large part on manufacturers’ self-reporting. However, although federal regulations may require them to report certain information to NHTSA, manufacturers do not always do so, or do not do so in a timely manner. Additionally, the information a manufacturer is required to report varies greatly depending on the product and company size and purpose. Given these constraints, safety-related information developed or discovered in private litigation is an important resource for NHTSA.

This Enforcement Guidance Bulletin sets forth NHTSA’s recommended guiding principles and best practices to be utilized in the context of private litigation. To the extent protective orders, settlement agreements, or other confidentiality provisions prohibit information obtained in private litigation from being transmitted to NHTSA, such limitations are contrary to Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, its state corollaries, and sound principles of public policy. Although such restrictions are generally prohibited by applicable rules and law, the Agency recommends that litigants include a specific provision in any protective order or settlement agreement that provides for disclosure of relevant motor vehicle safety information to NHTSA, regardless of any other restrictions on the disclosure or dissemination of such information.”

Please see Guidelines for reporting at

https://www.federalregister. gov/articles/2016/03/11/2016- 05522/nhtsa-enforcement- guidance-bulletin-2015-01- recommended-best-practices- for-protective-orders-and

Please also see [attached] comment to NHTSA by Investigator Steve Gray that notes the past legal practices that permitted deaths and injuries to occur for decades. Steve_Gray_-_Comment

Now we still have to make sure that legal information transmitted to NHTSA is made public and acted upon in the public interest.
Lou

Cover of Car Safety Wars by Michael Lemov
Cover of Car Safety Wars by Michael Lemov

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