Snyder Computer Sys., Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., Case Nos. 2:12–cv–1140

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtEDMUND A. SARGUS
Citation13 F.Supp.3d 848
PartiesSNYDER COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INC. d.b.a. Wildfire Motors, Plaintiff, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Defendant. United States of America, Plaintiff, v. Snyder Computer Systems, Inc. d.b.a. Wildfire Motors, Defendant.
Decision Date31 March 2014
Docket Number2:13–cv–311.,Case Nos. 2:12–cv–1140

13 F.Supp.3d 848

SNYDER COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INC. d.b.a. Wildfire Motors, Plaintiff,

United States of America, Plaintiff,
Snyder Computer Systems, Inc. d.b.a. Wildfire Motors, Defendant.

Case Nos. 2:12–cv–1140, 2:13–cv–311.

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.

Signed March 31, 2014

Importer's motions denied and NHTSA's motions granted.

[13 F.Supp.3d 850]

David W. Telford Carroll, Paul Kevin Hemmer, Carroll Ucker & Hemmer LLC, Worthington, OH, for Plaintiff.

John J. Stark, U.S. Attorney Office, Columbus, OH, for Defendant.

EDMUND A. SARGUS, JR., District Judge.

This consolidated case is a pre-enforcement challenge to a Recall Remedy Order issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, as amended and recodified at 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, §§ 30101–30183 (“Safety Act”). This matter is before the Court on the Motion to Stay of Snyder Computer Systems, Inc. d.b.a. Wildfire Motors (“Wildfire”) (ECF No. 11 1), Wildfire's Motion for Discovery (ECF No. 12), the United States of America's and the United States Department of Transportation's (“United States”) Motion for Summary Judgment Affirming the Agency Order (ECF No. 15), Wildfire's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 24), and the United States' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 26). For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the United States' motions and DENIES Wildfire's motions.


Wildfire is a privately held corporation in Steubenville, Ohio, that imports motor vehicles into the United States. (Administrative Record 2 (“AR”) 495.) One of the vehicles Wildfire imported is a three-wheeled motor vehicle with an enclosed body, the WF650–C, which is made in China by Taixing Sandi Motorcycle Co., Ltd. (“TSM”) (AR 495, 555.) That vehicle is the subject of this consolidated lawsuit.

A. NHTSA Tests and Investigates the WF650–C

As part of its 2009 compliance testing program, NHTSA purchased a Model Year 2009 WF650–C and tested it for compliance with FMVSS No. 122 (“Safety Standard 122”), which evaluates motorcycle brake systems. (AR 104–53, 496–97.) Although the WF650–C resembles a passenger car, the vehicle must meet the minimum safety standards for motorcycles because it has three wheels. 49 C.F.R. § 571.3. NHTSA had the tests performed at the Transportation Research Center, Inc. (“TRC”) in East Liberty, Ohio. (AR 496.) TRC is an independent test facility with an international reputation for motor vehicle testing. Id.

[13 F.Supp.3d 851]

In December 2009, NHTSA notified Wildfire of the WF650–C's “apparent noncompliance” with multiple requirements of Safety Standard 122. (AR 153.) Specifically, Wildfire was notified that the WF650–C (1) failed the first effectiveness stopping distance test; (2) lacked a separate reservoir for each brake circuit, with each reservoir filler opening having its own cover, seal, and cover retention device; (3) lacked the required reservoir label; and, (4) lacked a brake failure indicator lamp. Id. In NHTSA's notification. (AR 7–10, 154–61.) The first stopping distance test in the 10–part test sequence under Safety Standard 122 is known as the “first effectiveness” test, and requires the vehicle's brakes to stop the vehicle from 30 m.p.h. within 54 feet. 49 C.F.R. § 571.122. Because the WF650–C failed this first stopping distance test, NHTSA did not have TRC proceed with the remaining stopping distance tests required under Safety Standard 122. (AR 153, 498, 504.)

On March 5, 2010, Wildfire informed NHTSA that when TSM learned of the test results, the Chinese manufacturer “tested the model's brakes at its factory and the result was that the brakes were fine.” (AR 83.) Additionally, Wildfire indicated that it had conducted in-house “stopping distance tests with different drivers and different WF650–C motorcycles ... [and] [e]ach time every driver and every WF650–C motorcycle stopped between 28 and 32 feet without the wheels locking up.” Id. Wildfire attached to this submission a document titled “Chinese Three Wheel Motorcycle Brake Standard (Based on GB7258) (Chinese writing) Requirement of Brake Distance and Brake Stables.” (AR 86.) Half of the additional writing on the page is in Chinese and half is in English. Wildfire also provided a 14–page document titled “Certificate” that reads “Postcode,:225400 is in conformity with ISO 9001:2000 Standard.” (AR 87–101.) NHTSA requested that Wildfire provide a translation of these documents, which it failed to do. (AR 156.) That document is written in Chinese. NHTSA had the report reviewed by a native Chinese speaker at NHTSA, who indicated that the report did not appear to show that any stopping distance tests were performed. (AR 502.)

Wildfire next submitted to NHTSA documents that reflect that on May 7, 2010 and May 10, 2010, it conducted in-house brake testing that showed that the WF650–C complied with the first stopping distance test of Safety Standard 122. (AR 459, 461–467.) The information is presented on seven identical documents titled “Data Sheet 5,” which is one of the many documents utilized by TRC in its testing for compliance with Safety Standard 122. Each document shows that the driver was “Donnie” and the test was completed by “Ed.” (AR 461–467.) Wildfire also indicated to NHTSA that it believed the testing at TRC failed because the brakes on the vehicle purchased by NHTSA needed adjustment.

On September 28, 2010, “Wildfire representatives along with NHTSA personnel, convened at TRC ... to investigate the apparent non-compliances.” (AR 148.) “Wildfire indicated that it believed brakes needed to be adjusted and bled which would then rectify the stopping distance issue.” (AR 148.) NHTSA provided Wildfire the opportunity to make adjustments to the vehicle, and on September 30, 2010, the WF650–C was retested. (AR 148, 505.) During TRC's additional testing of the vehicle, it still failed to stop within the distance specified by the first effectiveness stopping distance requirement. (AR 148, 506.)

On August 18, 2011, TRC issued its Final Report on the compliance testing of the

[13 F.Supp.3d 852]

WF650–C. (AR 104–149.) The Report certified that “[a]ll testing was conducted in accordance with the U.S. D.O.T., NHTSA Laboratory Procedure TP 122–02 and/or the corresponding TRC Inc. Test Procedure that was submitted to NHTSA for their approval.” (AR 108.) The 45–page Report included: Vehicle Information, Summary of Testing, Test Data, Final Inspection, Master Cylinder Volume Calculations, Vehicle Arrival Condition Report, Vehicle Completion Condition Report, Determination of Master Cylinder Volume, Instrumentation and Calibration, Photographs, Comments, Procedure Modifications, Test Facility, and Notice of Possible Non–Compliance. (AR 107.) The Report presented the information mostly through “Data Sheets,” including “Data Sheet 5” that had been utilized by Wildfire in its in-house testing. (AR 109–127.) The Report concluded that the “vehicle did not meet the requirements of FMVSS 122.” (AR 108.)

Wildfire was permitted to provide any further information to rebut the apparent noncompliances, including any third-party testing or more detailed information on the procedures, equipment, or facilities used to conduct its testing. (AR 154–161.)

B. Wildfire Decides to Recall the WF650–C

In January 2012, NHTSA notified Wildfire that it had not provided sufficient information to rebut the apparent noncompliances. (AR154–225.) NHTSA informed Wildfire that neither it nor TSM “has shown that the vehicle is compliant.” (AR 156.) NHTSA continued:

Although TSM and Wildfire performed their own testing, this testing does not adequately address whether the WF650–C complies with FMVSS No. 122 S5.2.1. To date, Wildfire/TSM has supplied [NHTSA] with unsupported contentions and no data to support the validity of its testing. As [the] test report furnished by TSM is in Chinese. Even if it was translated into English, [NHTSA] would need to determine whether the data were reliable before accepting it.

In certifying a vehicle as compliant with a FMVSS, the “manufacturer certifies that the vehicle will comply with safety standards when tested by the agency according to the procedures described in the standard.” The test data supplied by TSM and Wildfire do not support the conclusion that the vehicle will comply with the safety standards when tested by NHTSA according to the procedures set forth in FMVSS No. 122.


Wildfire also stated that it conducted stopping distance tests with different drivers and different WF650–C motorcycles, claiming that every WF650–C stopped between 29 and 32 feet without the wheels locking up. [NHTSA] has told Wildfire that it should provide testing results for these tests. However, Wildfire has provided no further information or any details about how its stopping distance tests were conducted.

[NHTSA] has determined that these test results were unsupported because they did not contain a description of methodology used to conduct the tests and other supporting data. For example, Wildfire has not provided details about the instrumentation used to measure vehicle speed, stopping distance and brake pedal force, nor any documents verifying the accuracy and calibration of the instruments. This information was not forthcoming even after repeated [NHTSA] requests.

(AR 156–57) (two footnotes cited 49 U.S.C. § 30112(a)(1) and § 30115(a), and

[13 F.Supp.3d 853]

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Roof Crush Resistance, 76 Fed.Reg. 15903, 15905 (March 22, 2011) for a discussion of certification).

After explaining in more detail the deficiencies in the materials submitted to it by Wildfire, NHTSA requested that Wildfire recall the vehicle. (AR154–225, 302.) NHTSA, however, gave Wildfire the option of recalling the vehicle or providing a “full and detailed explanation of [its]...

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