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Court upholds six-figure fines for ‘Diesel Brothers’ for ‘wailing’

A federal appeals court upheld a six-figure penalty imposed on the stars of “The Diesel Brothers“Monster truck TV show about changing emissions control systems in trucks, leading to unnecessary air pollution in Utah.

But The verdict is 53 pages long Tuesday’s release came with a warning that it would return the matter to the Salt Lake City courtroom of U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby for further proceedings.

The basic case was not brought by the state management agencies but by the environmental group. Utah Doctor for a Healthy Environment (UPHE). The Court of Appeals affirmed the right of private groups to sue polluters for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

“We are one step closer to clean and healthy air in Utah,” said anesthesiologist Brian Moench, president of UPHE of Salt Lake City. “Today’s appeals court decision has broad implications. It is a victory for the protection of public health, for the preservation of the rule of law and the rights of citizens against punishment for any company that may engage in similar business conduct that disregards the rights of the individual. Citizens can breathe clean air. “

David “Heavy D” Sparks and his associates at Sparks Motors LLC illegally sold or equipped at least 31 diesel trucks with a device that disables the mandatory emission control system, according to the lawsuit. group. Some of the so-called “beaters” allow drivers to emit huge plumes of black exhaust in an operation known as “coal rolling”.

To build its case, the Doctors in Utah purchased one of Sparks’ modified trucks, a 2013 Ford F-250, for $43,000 and tested the vehicle’s emissions levels. it. The vehicles emit 36 ​​times more pollutants rather than its emissions control system was functioning properly, according to evidence presented at trial.

“It’s a classic coal roller. You hit the gas and there’s a big cloud,” said the group’s attorney Reed Zars, who represents UPHE. The catalytic converter, diesel particulate filter and other controls have been removed.

“It has been ‘straight-piped,’ with what they call a complete deletion. You just see like a drain pipe going from the manifold back to the back of the truck,” says Zars. “Strangely, the higher the price seems to be, the less likely it is to control emissions.”

The team spent $8,500 restoring those controls before reselling the truck.

Concluding Sparks’ conduct qualifies as “clear misconduct,” Judge Harris Hartz of the 10th Circuit wrote, “we see no adequacy” to the $760,000 fine. civilian that Shelby ordered.

But the three-judge panel returned the case to Shelby to determine the extent of the violation that occurred in Utah. Citing technical provisions in the law, the ruling directs Shelby to recalculate penalties to exclude violations in which the offending vehicle was sold to an out-of-state customer that had not previously operated in Utah. or where illegally damaged parts are sold. for an out-of-state customer.

“As far as we know, they’ve all been used in Utah,” Zars said. “Some of them are polluting in other states.”

Regardless, Sparks is prohibited from removing pollution control measures or sell vehicles without a mandatory control. Future pollution standards violations could result in the “Diesel Brothers” being held in contempt of court.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2021/12/29/appeals-court-affirms/ Court upholds six-figure fines for ‘Diesel Brothers’ for ‘wailing’

Yasmin Harisha

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