Products Liability Law Daily NHTSA fines Ride the Ducks up to $1M for Safety Act violations
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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

NHTSA fines Ride the Ducks up to $1M for Safety Act violations

By Colleen Kave, J.D.

Ride the Ducks International, LLC (RTDI) has agreed to pay fines up to $1 million pursuant to a consent order issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after the agency found RTDI had violated the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The civil penalty stems from a 2015 crash involving one of the company’s amphibious tour vehicles in which five people were killed (In re Ride the Ducks International, LLCNHTSA News ReleaseNHTSA 32-16, December 6, 2016).

NHTSA’s investigation of RTDI found that the vehicle involved in the crash had been manufactured using some donor parts from a military surplus vehicle. The vehicle had a front axle defect that had been noted in a bulletin from RTDI, but the company had not issued a motor vehicle safety recall. NHTSA established that RTDI is a manufacturer of motor vehicles under the Safety Act and, therefore, was in violation of the Act by not filing a defect information report and initiating a full recall in compliance with the law. In compliance with the consent order, RTDI has recalled around 57 model year 1996-2005 "Stretch" Amphibious Passenger Vehicles, warning that due to excessive fatigue, the axle housing on the affected vehicles may fracture at the connection point between the knuckle ball and the housing, possibly resulting in a loss of vehicle control (NHTSA Recall Notice, No. 16V859, November 29, 2016).

The consent order details RTDI’s responsibilities to remedy its noncompliance with the Safety Act, including obtaining an outside consultant to advise the company on their legal responsibilities under the Safety Act and to bring the company into compliance with the requirements of the Safety Act. RTDI will pay $480,000 in civil penalties and spend $20,000 to ensure completion of the terms of the consent order. The company will owe up to another $500,000 if it further violates the Safety Act or the Consent Order. According to NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind, the consent order is designed to send a message that NHTSA will continue to exercise its authority to protect the public’s safety with all vehicle manufacturers.

Companies: Ride the Ducks, International

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