UPS settles lawsuit over truck quality

Jessica M. Karmasek Mar. 2, 2011, 10:38am


ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Tuesday a $1.3 million settlement with United Parcel Service.

The settlement resolves allegations that the company knowingly permitted delivery trucks in serious disrepair to be driven and operated by UPS employees throughout the state.

The attorney general alleged that UPS was inspecting and passing their own trucks despite their poor condition.

Under the agreement, UPS paid $1.3 million in penalties, fines and costs, and consented to have an independent inspector conduct state vehicle inspections of UPS trucks in service in New York State for the next five years.

"UPS knowingly endangered not only the lives of their own employees but the lives of the driving public," Schneiderman said in a statement.

"By keeping these rotting and decaying trucks on the roadways, UPS was an accident waiting to happen, and this office has zero tolerance for anyone who knowingly poses a serious and significant risk to New Yorkers."

Tuesday's settlement resulted from an investigation that began upstate, but was quickly discovered to be a statewide problem, Schneiderman said.

A UPS mechanic had told the Attorney General's Office that despite having personally removed four delivery trucks from service at its Watertown, N.Y., facility in March 2006 -- they all had cracked frames -- UPS allowed those trucks to remain in service without being repaired.

According to Schneiderman's office, UPS had an internal procedure for the annual assessment and review of its truck fleet, referred to as the Annual Vehicle Retirement Process. It also had the ability to certify the safety of its fleet.

Through this process, UPS determined which, if any, of its trucks needed to be removed from service and disposed of them due to a number of factors, including the age of the truck, condition and odometer reading, Schneiderman said.

In addition, because of the size of its truck fleet, UPS had received a license from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct New York State vehicle inspections on its own trucks.

The attorney general alleged that in 2004 at least 23 delivery trucks were identified by UPS supervisors during the assessment process as having "cracked" or "rotted" frames. None of these trucks, however, were taken out of service, the attorney general found.

During the time these trucks were kept in service, UPS mechanics repeatedly conducted state and federal inspections certifying the safe condition of the vehicles, despite the fact that they had cracked or rotted frames, and should have failed inspection, Schneiderman said.

The company's new independent inspector, per its terms with the Attorney General's Office, will be pre-approved by Schneiderman.

For the first three years of the agreement, the inspector will conduct inspections of all UPS trucks in service in the state. During the fourth and fifth years, the inspector then will conduct "spot checks" of the company's trucks.

In addition, UPS has agreed to comply with New York State and federal laws that establish maximum driving hours for drivers of property carrying vehicles, maximum weights and the securing of cargo, the Attorney General's Office said.

It said UPS also has agreed to graduated penalties for any future violations ranging from $500 for the first violation within a one-year period and up to $10,000 for a fourth or any subsequent violation within a one-year period.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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