Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How safe is your child’s school zone? This map will show you.




MAP ON LINK





Alarming amount of car crashes outside schools,
study says | Digital Short
ABC Action News
Published on Dec 13, 2017
(0:55 sec video segment)
-----------------------------------------------------------------
ABC Action News
Published on Dec 13, 2017
 
Are your kids safe walking to school or even getting off the bus near school? A Florida law
firm dug through the FL Department of Motor Vehicle records to find out the number of
crashes within 500 feet of schools— and it’s alarming!

How safe is your child’s school zone? This map will show you.

BY HOWARD COHEN
DECEMBER 12, 2017 04:57 PM
UPDATED DECEMBER 12, 2017 05:28 PM

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Betsy Bejaminson: THANKS!





Betsy Benjaminson:  thoughts concerning ...
 
1.  Betsy is, and was, little known (sadly) outside of a small circle of individuals on this planet;
only publically identified as “The Toyota Whistleblower” for approximately the final 4.5 years
of her life.
 
2.  She has now (tragically) become an “historical figure.”
 
3.  While she became “a public figure,” following the Corporate Counsel Magazine article in
March 2013, with limited mention in the four Japan Times articles in June 2013, and received some
coverage in the Israeli media in early 2014, she was never “featured,” in a large mainstream
worldwide media article, or major American TV show segment, such as 20-20, 60 Minutes, etc.
 
4.  She was let-down, and failed, by many; not the least of which was NHTSA (who after all, had
initiated 3-4 (at least initial) “investigations” into reports of Toyota SUA events earlier on their
own – which subsequently went nowhere.  (With NHTSA potentially having been effectively
infiltrated by Toyota – there’s potentially an additional story there as well?)
 
5.  Beyond that, Congress, the media, insurance companies, police, IEEE (who have “never taken a
public position” concerning SUA – even as a number of their members are involved), and I’m sure
possibly others -- along the way, also let her down. 
 
Sadly, the Car Wash Association has never published, “or leaked,” their internal guidance memo
concerning vehicles noted prone to SUA -- meant as safety guidance for their members.
 
6.  “Everybody is in on the (SUA) act,” but no one wants “to publically admit” the obvious, and continuing,
ongoing truth concerning the issue.  (Still have no idea “why” Honda did (in a limited way) concerning several
of their hybrid vehicles in Japan?)
 
7.  Have no idea “what plans” Betsy had made for the potential release of any book she had (hopefully largely)
completed prior to her passing.  Same for all her original, and translated, documents.  Reportedly, approximately
one-percent of them “tell the story,” but unfortunately -- did not include -- a “smoking-gun” memo.  (In real-life,
there are rarely “Perry Mason moments,” where the guilty party dramatically “publically confesses” to the crime.)
 
8.  Even – IF --  solid plans had been completed and implemented, “how much” -- “legal wrangling” – will there be
concerning them (legal -- or otherwise -- control and ownership, their release, and financial-related issues)?  And
could Toyota (who “will spend” ANY amount of time, money, and legal fees to suppress), tie-up their release for years,
if not decades?  And finally potentially place Betsy’s family members in some form of never-ending legal and financial
jeopardy and hell?
 
9.  If NOTHING HAPPENS over the next 6- 24 months, it’s likely “her efforts” will essentially disappear, and “fade
promptly” into history.  Certainly the ability to provide “any legal consequences and/or public grief” to Toyota
will sadly, and likely, be lost
 
10.  Beyond that, 20- 30++ years from now, a researcher, etc., may “come across” her life and story – and write about it.
If it proves to be “an initial public hit,” it could then be made into a TV, or Hollywood movie.  But by that time, the SUA
issue will (hopefully) have been  largely taken care of.  (Speaking for myself, I will not be here to see this, not to mention
prove to be heartbreaking, as she becomes more famous in death, than in life, given the important nature of her efforts
and story.)
 
(Toyota has been hiring embedded software professionals in Thailand for some year now.  While “the simple answer”
is: it’s probably less expensive, a possible more complex answer is: whether additionally, these folks are “outside the
reach” of the U.S. legal system – and could never be “legally requested” to “tell what they know” about Toyota’s ETCS-i? 
(Wish I knew, the answer to this, one way or the other.)
 
11. Beyond the initial 20 - 30++ year mark, “Betsy’s story” is “discovered” 75 - 200+ years from now.  A “true” “historical
figure,” with an interesting story, from “the bad old days” in the political and corporate history of the U.S. and planet --assuming
both survive.
 
 
 
 
 





Bodiford Law Group Recent Settlements and Verdicts




Bodiford Law Group Recent Settlements and Verdicts


Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Alleging 'Code of Silence' Led to Fatal Crash



VIDEO ON LINK




Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Alleging 'Code of Silence' Led to Fatal Crash

By Charlie Wojciechowski


Just before the jury was set to deliberate, a settlement has been reached in the case of a former Chicago police detective who was involved in a fatal accident.
The suit alleged that the Chicago Police Department's "code of silence" allowed detective Joseph Frugoli to escape punishment for drunken driving before he plowed his SUV into a disabled vehicle in April 2009. 

"We were always prepared to take this verdict," Attorney Tim Cavanagh said. "We have been talking to the city this whole time and they accepted responsibility and we accepted a settlement." 
Frugoli's blood-alcohol content was more than four times the legal limit when his SUV crashed into the car, killing two men.
The lawsuit filed by the families of Andrew Cazares and Fausto Manzera alleged a "code of silence" led Frugoli to believe he could "drink and drive with impunity." 
"The city did not rebut a national expert who went through the city's records and testified that there is a 'code of silence,'" Attorney Kevin Conway said. 
In addition to the allegations of past drunk driving by Frugoli, a bar fight involving the former detective surfaced only after the trial started was also key to the plaintiff's case. 
"The incident that happened in 1992 blew this case wide open and told us definitively that with alcohol related incidents, Joe Frugoli got a pass in 1992," Cavanagh said. 
Details of the settlement have not been made public. 




https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/settlement-reached-in-suit-alleging-code-of-silence-led-to-fatal-crash-462860253.html



Crash Victims Knew Others Allegedly Killed by Drunk Cop

TOYOTA SOY WIRING CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT FILED IN MASSACHUSETTS



A Toyota soy-based wiring lawsuit says mice, rats, squirrels and other rodents chew the wires.

Posted in News
 — A Toyota soy wiring class-action lawsuit alleges rats, mice, squirrels and other animals are enticed to chew the wires that causes damage to all kinds of electrical components, leaving Toyota owners to pay thousands for repairs.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges those repairs are made with the same problematic soy wiring, causing owners to continually pay for repairs.
The proposed class-action lawsuit includes all consumers in Massachusetts who incurred out-of-pocket expenses related to soy wiring and who currently own or lease, or previously owned or leased, any of the following vehicles:
  • 2011-2016 Toyota 4Runner
  • 2013-2016 Toyota Avalon
  • 2012-2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • 2009-2016 Toyota Camry
  • 2014-2016 Toyota Corolla
  • 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • 2009, 2012, 2015 Toyota Highlander
  • 2009 Toyota Matrix
  • 2010-2015 Toyota Prius
  • 2012-2015 Toyota Prius C
  • 2008-2016 Toyota Rav4
  • 2014-2016 Scion TC
  • 2012-2015 Toyota Sequoia
  • 2011-2014 Toyota Sienna
  • 2014, 2015 Toyota Tacoma
  • 2007-2016 Toyota Tundra
  • 2010, 2013 Toyota Venza Ltd
Plaintiff Ray Roscoe says wiring in cars used to be coated with a glass, plastic or polymer-based insulation, but automakers now routinely use materials to save money and allegedly be good for the environment. Toyota allegedly did this with the wiring, choosing soy-based insulation over petroleum-based insulation.
Owners claim the automaker uses the soy wiring to save money at the expense of customer safety because the damaged wires cause multiple safety hazards.
The plaintiff claims Toyota is using the soy wiring as a good source of incoming for the company and dealerships by charging customers with the repair costs and by selling traps, repellents and other items as preventive measures.
In place of covering repairs under warranty, the automaker allegedly says the chewed wires are classified under "other environmental conditions" which are not covered.
The warranty specifically excludes damage from "[a]irbone chemicals, tree sap, road debris (including stone chips), rail dust, hail, floods, wind storms, lightning and other environmental conditions."
Roscoe says he purchased a 2012 Toyota Sequoia from an authorized Toyota dealership in Massachusetts in May 2015 for $37,884.80. Mr. Roscoe says he also purchased an additional extended warranty called a "Vehicle Service Agreement" for $1,250.
During a trip in May of 2016, a mouse crawled up the leg of the plaintiff's wife and again crawled onto her shoulder later during the trip while she was riding in the passenger seat. His wife says she screamed and had to whack the the mouse off of her two times during the trip.
When Roscoe brought his Toyota Sequoia to the dealership for a routine oil change on December 8, 2016, he allegedly learned mice had caused extensive damage to the truck. The mice had chewed through so much of the wiring the dealership allegedly told him to immediately stop driving the truck because it could catch fire.
Mr. Roscoe requested that Toyota replace the wiring with wiring that wasn't soy-based but Toyota allegedly told him that rodent damage to the wiring in his truck was not covered under his warranty as it was considered an "outside source of damage to the car."
The dealer allegedly had to rip the entire truck apart in order to remove the rodents and repair the damage. When the plaintiff received his truck back from the dealership, the interior was allegedly covered in scratches due to seats and sides being removed and put back together.
Because of the soy wiring, the plaintiff says he incurred out-of-pocket expenses including lost use of his truck for nearly two months, rental car fees and a decreased resale value.
Mr. Roscoe claims he paid $613.57 to Hertz for a rental car for three weeks and three days and his wife had to share her car for an additional month because they could not afford to pay for the rental car. The lawsuit alleges Mr. Roscoe's wife struggled to find rides to and from work with friends and co-workers.
According to the lawsuit, Mr. Roscoe's insurance company paid out $16,793.79 to the Toyota dealership to replace the soy wiring with the exact same rodent-attracting wiring despite a request not to use the same wiring.
The Toyota soy wiring class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts - Roscoe v. Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.
The plaintiff is represented by Connor Morneau & Olin LLP.
Toyota has been hit with soy wiring class-actions in the past, including one from 2016.



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Subaru Impreza crashes into Worcester gift shop





Car crashes into Worcester gift shop


WORCESTER — A driver was trapped inside a vehicle after crashing into a store Friday afternoon.
The driver of a 2013 Subaru Impreza slammed into the front of Echobrook Nursery & Gift Shop at 1120 Grafton St. about 2:15 p.m.
The car’s roof had to be removed to get the 36-year-old driver out of the vehicle. The driver appeared to be in good condition but was experiencing back and neck pain and having trouble breathing, according to police.
The Worcester Police Crash Reconstruction Unit’s preliminary investigation found that the vehicle was traveling northwest on Grafton Street when it suddenly made a U-turn.
It continued southeast, jumping the curb in front of 1110 Grafton St. and continuing across the parking lot before crashing into the store, police said.
Investigators will conduct a full inspection in order to determine if mechanical problems were a contributing factor in the crash. No citations have been issued.


File a Vehicle Safety Complaint (NHTSA)
=========================================

2013 SUBARU IMPREZA Problems & Complaints (U.S. NHTSA complaints as of: 9 Dec 2017)

=========================================
Oct 17, 2015 - Wayne, NJ - Vehicle Speed Control
WHILE ON THE BRAKE PEDAL, THE VEHICLE ACCELERATED. THIS HAPPENED ON TWO SEPARATE OCCASIONS; BOTH WHILE MY FOOT WAS ON THE
BRAKE PEDAL. THE FIRST TIME THIS HAPPENED, I WAS ON MY BRAKE AT A RED LIGHT (STATIONARY) AND THE SECOND TIME, AFTER I WENT OVER A
SMALL "LIP" ON THE ASPHALT, I WAS BRAKING TO PARK IN FRONT OF A HOUSE WHEN IT ACCELERATED SUBSTANTIALLY, CAUSING EXTENSIVE
DAMAGE TO THE HOUSE AND CAR, WHILE ALMOST KILLING ME.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Mar 18, 2014 - Croton-On-Hudson, NY - Vehicle Speed Control
TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2013 SUBARU IMPREZA. THE CONTACT STATED THAT WHILE DRIVING 4 MPH IN REVERSE, THE VEHICLE RAPIDLY
ACCELERATED IN REVERSE. THE CONTACT WAS UNABLE TO STOP THE VEHICLE, AS IT PROCEEDED TO CRASH INTO A BOULDER FOLLOWED BY A
TREE. THE REAR BUMPER WAS DAMAGED HOWEVER, THERE WERE NO INJURIES AND A POLICE REPORT WAS NOT FILED. THE CONTACT STATED THAT
THE FAILURE OCCURRED TWICE, INITIALLY IN NOVEMBER 2013 AND AGAIN IN FEBRUARY 2014 WHILE IN REVERSE. THE MANUFACTURER WAS
CONTACTED AND OFFERED NO ASSISTANCE WITH REPAIRING THE VEHICLE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 6,300 AND THE CURRENT MILEAGE WAS
7,000.
--------------------------------------------------------------
Oct 06, 2013 - Bronxville, NY - Vehicle Speed Control
WE WERE PULLING INTO A PARKING PLACE, TURNING THE WHEEL AND THE CAR UNEXPECTED LEAPED FORWARD. THIS HAS OCCURRED NOW 5
TIMES--ALL TIMES MOVING SLOWLY FORWARD, TURNING THE WHEEL AS WE TRIED TO PARK. THIS HAS OCCURRED WITH BOTH MY PARTNER DRIVING,
AND WITH MYSELF DRIVING. SO FAR WE HAVE MANAGED TO SLAM ON THE BRAKES IN TIME--AND THEY STOPPED THE CAR. BUT WE FEAR CRASHING
OR ACCIDENTALLY HURTING SOMEONE.
=========================================
2013 Subaru Impreza Recalls
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2013 SUBARU IMPREZA TECHNICAL SERVICE BULLETINS (TSBS)






Friday, December 8, 2017

Scott Pruitt’s Plan To Outsource Part Of EPA Overhaul To Automaker Raises Concerns







VIDEO ON LINK


Scott Pruitt’s Plan To Outsource Part Of EPA Overhaul To Automaker Raises Concerns

The announcement came one day after a Volkswagen executive was sentenced to prison for an emissions scandal.



The Environmental Protection Agency plans to work with Toyota Motor Corporation to overhaul internal management practices at the agency, Administrator Scott Pruitt said Thursday.
The announcement came in response to a question from Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) abou how the agency assessed its workload and determined how many people were necessary to meet its goals, at the first of two hearings before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Thursday morning. The EPA’s Office of Inspector General issued a report back in September 2011 criticizing the agency for not conducting a comprehensive workload analysis in 20 years, and Shimkus asked whether Pruitt planned to address it.
“We are actually partnering with Toyota to begin a lean process at the agency to evaluate management practices,” Pruitt said. “The agency for many years ― and this is something I found surprising ― has not measured outcomes consistently.”
The extent of the proposed partnership is unclear, but the EPA told HuffPost it was considering bringing on the company to advise on ways to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act process across agencies. 
“EPA, in conjunction with other federal agencies, is working to deploy lean management practices that eliminate waste and deliver measurable results,” an EPA spokeswoman told HuffPost.
The EPA has historically used the term “partner” to describe big companies it has worked with to save water and increase renewable energy use, but inviting a company regulated by the agency to alter internal practices appears to be “unprecedented,” according to Don Anair, deputy director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an EPA watchdog.
“We’ve seen a pattern with this EPA cozying up to industry,” Anair told HuffPost. “This is a clear conflict of interest.”  
The announcement, made as a passing remark on Pruitt’s first appearance before a Congressional oversight committee since taking office, raises concerns over how a corporate giant the EPA regulates could wield influence over agency functions. Like other automakers and trade associations, Toyota has lobbied aggressively to weaken Obama-era fuel economy standards.
“I don’t see anything wrong with learning from the private and public sectors from good management techniques,” Janet McCabe, the former acting assistant administrator at the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, told HuffPost. “But depending on how embedded in the organization they’re going to be, it could raise questions, since they are a regulated industry that’s interested in the substantive work of the agency.”




PETE MAROVICH VIA GETTY IMAGES





EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the agency on Dec. 7. 

Toyota spokeswoman Karen Nielsen confirmed that the company is considering working with the EPA, but said it has not yet reached an agreement. She declined to comment on what that relationship would entail, the information Toyota would have access to, or how much the EPA offered to pay the company for its services.
Toyota proselytizes its management practices, dubbed “The Toyota Way,” to many organizations, including hospitals and nonprofits, and bringing the company in to the EPA could be “a great idea,” said Michael Useem, a professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The agency would likely create a memorandum of understanding barring Toyota from working on policy issues, he said. 
“But who knows in the end,” Useem said. 
We’ve seen a pattern with this EPA cozying up to industry.Don Anair, Union of Concerned Scientists
The partnership marks what critics see as another instance of the EPA being overly friendly with industries whose pollution it’s supposed to police. Pruitt spent his early months meeting with oil, gas and mining companies while spurning environmental and public health advocates. The primary focus of his tenure so far has been eliminating regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit pollution and toxic pesticides.  
“I don’t have any problem with looking to business for management models, assuming appropriate distance between management models from companies and their compliance obligations,” Stan Meiberg, a former acting deputy EPA administrator who spent 39 years at the agency, told HuffPost. 
“It is worth remembering that while efficient operations are worthwhile, government is not a business,” he added. “Efficiency at the expense of justice is not what democratic government is about.”
The news came one day after a former Volkswagen executive was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the auto giant’s emissions cheating scandal. The EPA spearheaded the 2015 investigation into Volkswagen’s scheme to fit 482,000 vehicles sold in the United States with software to cheat on government tests for diesel pollution, in violation of the Clean Air Act.
Toyota has invested heavily in hydrogen battery technology and electric vehicles in recent years. The EPA awarded the company for fuel efficiency measures in its auto hauling division in 2015 and energy-saving practices in its North American factories in 2010. But the world’s biggest carmaker has its own history of violating the Clean Air Act. 
In March 2003, the EPA reached a settlement with Toyota for failing to disclosure information about a faulty part that increased ozone pollution in 2.2 million vehicles sold in the U.S. As part of the agreement, Toyota spent $20 million to retrofit up to 3,000 diesel-powered vehicles, including school and municipal buses, with catalytic converters, filters and whole engines to reduce pollution.
“Given recent events, not sure I would be taking management advice from an auto company,” Cynthia Giles, who led the EPA’s enforcement and compliance office during the Volkswagen investigation, told HuffPost by email on Thursday.
This article was updated to include comments from Janet McCabe and Stan Meiberg. 
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pruitt-toyota-partnership_us_5a29bbc7e4b069ec48abfce8



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Volkswagen Official Gets 7-Year Term in Diesel-Emissions Cheating



Volkswagen Official Gets 7-Year Term in Diesel-Emissions Cheating



BILL VLASIC
December 6, 2017




Oliver Schmidt, a Volkswagen executive, speaking at an industry 
event in Michigan in 2014. He had been with the company for two 
decades when he was arrested in a scheme to deceive regulators.


DETROIT — A top Volkswagen official in the United States was sentenced on Wednesday to seven years in prison for his role in the German automaker’s decade-long scheme to cheat on diesel emissions tests.

The sentencing of Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen manager in Michigan, was the latest turn in a vast scandal that has tarnished the company’s reputation and has cost the carmaker more than $20 billion in fines and settlements.

The sentence, including a fine of $400,000, was imposed by Judge Sean F. Cox in Federal District Court in Detroit four months after Mr. Schmidt, 48, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and to violating the Clean Air Act. The sentence was in line with the prosecution’s recommendation.

Mr. Schmidt, a citizen of Germany, is the highest-ranking Volkswagen employee to be convicted in the scheme in the United States. His case underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to indicting and prosecuting participants in the company’s efforts to rig pollution tests on hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles imported for sale in the American market.

But most of those suspected of conspiring to defraud United States regulators are out of reach of American justice in Germany, which normally does not extradite its own citizens. Mr. Schmidt may turn out to suffer the harshest punishment for the emissions fraud even though he was hardly the only participant or the highest ranking.

Mr. Schmidt’s arrest in January, more than a year after the scandal erupted, was something of a fluke. Having been transferred back to Germany, he came to the United States for a vacation with his wife and was seized as he waited for a departing flight in Miami. Why he risked arrest by traveling to the United States remains a mystery.

Mr. Schmidt had been a Volkswagen employee since 1997 and was named general manager of the company’s engineering and environmental office in Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2013. He was responsible for the automaker’s relations with the federal and California regulatory agencies that initially pursued the emissions-cheating case.

Before imposing the sentence, Judge Cox admonished Mr. Schmidt for his actions and described him as a crucial figure in a wide-ranging plot. “You are a key conspirator responsible for the cover-up in the United States of a massive fraud perpetuated on the American consumer,” the judge said at the end of the nearly two-hour hearing.

Prosecutors asserted that Mr. Schmidt had provided false information to federal agents after the Environmental Protection Agency uncovered the “defeat devices” that Volkswagen used to circumvent pollution rules.

Judge Cox said Mr. Schmidt’s effort to conceal the existence of the devices from regulators was hardly an isolated mistake. “You viewed the cover-up as an opportunity to shine and climb up the corporate ladder,” the judge said.

Mr. Schmidt has played down his role in the development of the devices and in the company’s efforts to cover up its actions.

In his comments to the judge, Mr. Schmidt — his wrists shackled and wearing a red prison jumpsuit and black-rimmed reading glasses — said he accepted responsibility for his wrongdoing. “I only have to blame myself,” he said in German-accented English. “I made bad decisions, and for that I am sorry.”

Mr. Schmidt had sought to limit his sentence to 40 months in prison and a $100,000 fine.

In a letter to the judge before the sentencing, Mr. Schmidt said his loyalty to Volkswagen had led him to be “misused by my own company.” He cited a meeting in 2015 with a senior official at the California Air Resources Board at which he concealed the existence of software that allowed Volkswagen to cheat on emission tests.

“A script, or talking points, I was directed to follow for that meeting was approved by management level supervisors at VW, including a high-ranking in-house lawyer, ” he said in the letter. “Regrettably, I agreed to follow it.”

Mr. Schmidt did not identify any Volkswagen superiors who might have pressured him to lie to regulators.

Volkswagen moved to put the scandal behind it in the United States by agreeing this year to plead guilty to felony charges of illegally importing nearly 600,000 vehicles equipped with devices to circumvent emissions standards. It paid $4.3 billion in penalties and was put on probation for three years, with a monitor overseeing its compliance with ethics and regulatory measures.

Other than Mr. Schmidt, only a company engineer, James Liang, has been sentenced in the United States in the matter, receiving a 40-month term in August after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the government and violating the Clean Air Act.

Another figure in the American investigation, Zaccheo Pamio, an executive in the company’s Audi division, was arrested in Germany in July. As an Italian citizen, he faces possible extradition — unlike five other executives indicted in the United States, all Germans based in their home country.

Jack Ewing contributed reporting from New York.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/business/oliver-schmidt-volkswagen.html