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1HomePageMap small w 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in California, NevadaOregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska and Wyoming

Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:43

CAA Asks Governor to Veto SB 519

RE: AB 519 (Solorio)-VETO

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:

Toyota has reached an out-of-court settlement with relatives of the Saylor family who were killed when the Lexus sedan they were driving sped out of control and crashed, , according to reports made by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Investigators attributed the accident to a mismatched floormat, which trapped the accelerator pedal, and put an international spotlight on the sudden acceleration concerns that later prompted the automaker to recall millions of vehicles.

Toyota confirmed the settlement September 18 in a statement but did not provide the amount involved or any other details.

“Through mutual respect and cooperation we were able to resolve this matter without the need for litigation,” the statement said.

The crash, which happened in August 2009 in Santee, CA,  was dramatically documentend with cell phone evidence that drew international attention. A backseat passenger called 911 to say that the driver, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer named Mark Saylor, was unable to stop the 2009 Lexus E350, which went as fast as 120 miles per hour on a freeway before hitting another vehicle, going airborn and landing in a fiery crash in a ravine.

Mark Saylor, 45; his wife, Cleofe, 45; and their 13-year-old daughter Mahala died, along with Cleofe Saylor’s brother, Chris Lastrella, 39. It was Lastrella who told the 911 operator that the car’s pedal was stuck and ended the call by saying, “Hold on and pray.” The car was on loan from the nearby Bob Baker Lexus dealership while Saylor’s car was being repaired.

The settlement has left out co-defendant Bob Baker Lexus, a move by the automaker that could set the stage for a potentially damaging fight with its own dealers over who is to blame for sudden acceleration incidents.

“Toyota has sought to protect only its own interests. They decided to cut out their own dealer,” said Larry Willis, attorney for Bob Baker Lexus.

The settlement, according to Toyota’s statement, resolves product liability claims by the Saylor and Lastrella families against Toyota and the dealership. The families have separate claims against the dealership that were not covered.

Two months after the crash, Toyota began a recall that eventually covered 5.4 million vehicles globally in which the automaker said the driver-side floormat could trap the accelerator pedal.

It later recalled 4.5 million vehicles in which the pedals themselves were determined to be defective. Some vehicles were covered by both recalls, for a total of about eight million vehicles.

In February, Toyota’s chief executive, Akio Toyoda, apologized to Congress and to the Saylor family, saying he would “do everything in my power to ensure such a tragedy never happens again.”

The recalls hurt Toyota’s sales and damaged its reputation for building high-quality, reliable vehicles. Thousands of complaints poured in to federal regulators from drivers who said their Toyota-made vehicles accelerated suddenly. In April, the government fined Toyota a record $16.4 million for waiting too long to initiate a recall. The complaints are tied to at least 93 deaths.

Toyota is continuing to defend itself against class-action lawsuits filed by Toyota owners and relatives of people who died in crashes alleged to have resulted from sudden acceleration. The company could face billions of dollars in liabilities if it loses the cases.

Preliminary results released in August from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation into the sudden-acceleration complaints revealed that in many of the crashes the vehicles’ on-board data recorders showed no evidence that the drivers had used the brakes.

The findings suggest that some drivers were mistakenly pressing on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake.

To read previously published articles on this subject go to www.autobodynews.com, search “Saylor.”

Thursday, 23 September 2010 16:39

CAA Santa Clara Hosts Annual Trade Faire

Every year the CAA Trade Faire provides an opportunity for CAA members, vendors, body shop and dealership personnel to network, learn more about the industry and re-connect with old friends. On September 15, the CAA Santa Clara chapter’s Trade Faire was held at the Holiday Inn Airport in San Jose, Calif., an event that is more than 20 years old and unique to this CAA chapter in the Bay Area.

Dave Mello, the lifetime treasurer for the CAA Santa Clara’s chapter, was very pleased to see a good turnout for this year’s faire. “We had more than 160 members and associates and 38 vendors on hand to make it a great Trade Faire once again,” said Mello, owner of Andersen Behl Body Shop in Santa Clara said.

“It’s a great night, because body shop professionals and vendors alike can network free-form, as opposed to sitting at a dinner and listening to a speaker. This way, people can interact in their own way in an environment without a schedule or an agenda.”

Vendors featuring computers, software, frame equipment, paint, clips and hardware, legal aid, welders, infrared lamps, paint gun cleaners, car rentals, first aid supplies, radiators and more displayed their products and/or services at the CAA Santa Clara Trade Faire. More than $5,000 in prizes was raffled off during the event, Mello said.

In a legislative move that has split the two California collision repair associations, California lawmakers approved SB 427 (Negrete, McLeod) which redefines the term "crash part" and increases the penalty on the failure to repair and fully restore an airbag to original operating conditions. The bill was supported by the American Insurance Association (AIA). “AIA feels confident in the language and the protections it will offer our members’ policyholders,” said Gibford.

This bill would define and redefine "crash part," "aftermarket crash part," and "original equipment manufacturer crash part," for purposes of the act and the motor vehicle replacement part provisions.

The bill specifies that an automotive repair dealer who prepares a written estimate that includes replacement of a deployed airbag and who fails to repair and fully restore the airbag where the consumer has paid for the repair, as specified, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.

The bill would require the invoice for work done by an automotive repair dealer to describe all service work done, parts supplied, and crash parts installed. The bill would make a statement of legislative intent regarding this requirement.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a measure August 30 allowing tens of thousands more Californians with environmentally friendly cars to drive solo in carpool lanes according to reports made by the LA Times and 10 News San Diego.

Lawmakers worked late into the night August 30, the second to last day of the 2009-10 legislative session. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took some action of his own, signing into law a measure expanding the list of environmentally friendly cars that qualify for permits to use carpool lanes.

The measure will allow up to 40,000 more California motorists to drive solo in the special lanes. It also extends the lifespan of existing permits for hybrid and electric vehicles. The bill, SB 535 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by General Motors, would provide thousands of permits for new models of fuel-efficient cars.

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 17:47

AIAM Supports Agreement on CA Brake Pad Bill

The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, Inc. (AIAM) supports passage of a bill by the California legislature to reduce copper dust from vehicle brake pads that can wash into urban watersheds. AIAM members worked closely with California lawmakers, industry organizations, municipal water agencies and environmental groups on SB 346 to find an approach to brake pad reformulation that protects the environment without compromising public safety.

“We believe SB 346 provides a balanced approach to achieving California’s environmental goals while maintaining vehicle brake safety,” said Michael J. Stanton, president and CEO of AIAM.

“Brake dust” can contain copper and other materials and is created by friction when the brakes are applied. SB 346, authored by Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), sets limits on the amount of copper used in brake pads starting in 2021. By 2025 there will be a virtual ban of the mineral. Owners of vehicles designed with brake pads containing copper will have access to replacement parts for the life of their cars.

“The bill establishes a challenging goal that we and our suppliers are committed to meeting,” said Stanton. “We thank Senator Kehoe for all that she has done to bring the various parties together on this bill.”