Collapse to view only § 30166. Inspections, investigations, and records

§ 30161.
Judicial review of standards
(a)
Filing and Venue.—
A person adversely affected by an order prescribing a motor vehicle safety standard under this chapter may apply for review of the order by filing a petition for review in the court of appeals of the United States for the circuit in which the person resides or has its principal place of business. The petition must be filed not later than 59 days after the order is issued.
(b)
Notifying Secretary.—
The clerk of the court shall send immediately a copy of the petition to the Secretary of Transportation. The Secretary shall file with the court a record of the proceeding in which the order was prescribed.
(c)
Additional Proceedings.—
(1) On request of the petitioner, the court may order the Secretary to receive additional evidence and evidence in rebuttal if the court is satisfied that the additional evidence is material and there were reasonable grounds for not presenting the evidence in the proceeding before the Secretary.
(2) The Secretary may modify findings of fact or make new findings because of the additional evidence presented. The Secretary shall file a modified or new finding, a recommendation to modify or set aside the order, and the additional evidence with the court.
(d)
Certified Copies of Records of Proceedings.—
The Secretary shall give any interested person a certified copy of the transcript of the record in a proceeding under this section on request and payment of costs. A certified copy of the record of the proceeding is admissible in a proceeding arising out of a matter under this chapter, regardless of whether the proceeding under this section has begun or becomes final.
(e)
Finality of Judgment and Supreme Court Review.—
A judgment of a court under this section is final and may be reviewed only by the Supreme Court under section 1254 of title 28.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 966.)
§ 30162.
Petitions by interested persons for standards and enforcement
(a)
Filing.—
Any interested person may file a petition with the Secretary of Transportation requesting the Secretary to begin a proceeding—
(1) to prescribe a motor vehicle safety standard under this chapter; or
(2) to decide whether to issue an order under section 30118(b) of this title.
(b)
Statement of Facts.—
A petition under this section must state facts that the person claims establish that a motor vehicle safety standard or order referred to in subsection (a) of this section is necessary and briefly describe the order the Secretary should issue.
(c)
Proceedings.—
The Secretary may hold a public hearing or conduct an investigation or proceeding to decide whether to grant a petition under this section.
(d)
Actions of Secretary.—
(1)
In general.—
The Secretary shall determine whether to approve or deny a petition under this section by not later than 120 days after the petition is filed.
(2)
Approval.—
If a petition under this section is approved, the Secretary shall begin the proceeding promptly.
(3)
Denial.—
If a petition under this section is denied, the Secretary shall publish the reasons for the denial in the Federal Register.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 967; Pub. L. 117–58, div. B, title IV, § 24206, Nov. 15, 2021, 135 Stat. 822.)
§ 30163.
Actions by the Attorney General
(a)
Civil Actions To Enforce.—
The Attorney General may bring a civil action in a United States district court to enjoin—
(1) a violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter; and
(2)
the sale, offer for sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction, in interstate commerce, or the importation into the United States, of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment for which it is decided, before the first purchase in good faith other than for resale, that the vehicle or equipment—
(A) contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety about which notice was given under section 30118(c) of this title or an order was issued under section 30118(b) of this title; or
(B) does not comply with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter.
(b)
Prior Notice.—
When practicable, the Secretary of Transportation shall notify a person against whom a civil action under subsection (a) of this section is planned, give the person an opportunity to present that person’s views, and, except for a knowing and willful violation of this chapter, give the person a reasonable opportunity to remedy the defect or comply with the applicable motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter. Failure to give notice and an opportunity to remedy the defect or comply with the applicable motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter does not prevent a court from granting appropriate relief.
(c)
Venue.—
Except as provided in section 30121(d) of this title, a civil action under this section or section 30165(a) of this title may be brought in the judicial district in which the violation occurred or the defendant is found, resides, or does business. Process in the action may be served in any other judicial district in which the defendant resides or is found.
(d)
Jury Trial Demand.—
In a trial for criminal contempt for violating an injunction or restraining order issued under subsection (a) of this section, the violation of which is also a violation of this chapter, the defendant may demand a jury trial. The defendant shall be tried as provided in rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (18 App. U.S.C.).
(e)
Subpenas for Witnesses.—
In a civil action brought under this section, a subpena for a witness may be served in any judicial district.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 967.)
§ 30164.
Service of process; conditions on importation of vehicles and equipment
(a)
Designating Agents.—
A manufacturer offering a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment for import shall designate an agent on whom service of notices and process in administrative and judicial proceedings may be made. The designation shall be in writing and filed with the Secretary of Transportation. The designation may be changed in the same way as originally made.
(b)
Service.—
An agent may be served at the agent’s office or usual place of residence. Service on the agent is deemed to be service on the manufacturer. If a manufacturer does not designate an agent, service may be made by posting the notice or process in the office of the Secretary.
(c)
Identifying Information.—
A manufacturer (including an importer) offering a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment for import shall provide, upon request, such information that is necessary to identify and track the products as the Secretary, by rule, may specify, including—
(1) the product by name and the manufacturer’s address; and
(2) each retailer or distributor to which the manufacturer directly supplied motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment over which the Secretary has jurisdiction under this chapter.
(d)
Regulations on the Import of a Motor Vehicle.—
The Secretary may issue regulations that—
(1)
condition the import of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment on the manufacturer’s compliance with—
(A) the requirements under this section;
(B) paragraph (1) or (3) of section 30112(a) with respect to such motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment;
(C) the provision of reports and records required to be maintained with respect to such motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment under this chapter;
(D) a request for inspection of premises, vehicle, or equipment under section 30166;
(E) an order or voluntary agreement to remedy such vehicle or equipment; or
(F) any rules implementing the requirements described in this subsection;
(2) provide an opportunity for the manufacturer to present information before the Secretary’s determination as to whether the manufacturer’s imports should be restricted; and
(3) establish a process by which a manufacturer may petition for reinstatement of its ability to import motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment.
(e)
Exception.—
The requirements of subsections (c) and (d) shall not apply to original manufacturers (or wholly owned subsidiaries) of motor vehicles that, prior to the date of enactment of the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Improvement Act of 2012—
(1) have imported motor vehicles into the United States that are certified to comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards;
(2) have submitted to the Secretary appropriate manufacturer identification information under part 566 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations; and
(3) if applicable, have identified a current agent for service of process in accordance with part 551 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations.
(f)
Rulemaking.—
In issuing regulations under this section, the Secretary shall seek to reduce duplicative requirements by coordinating with the Department of Homeland Security.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 968; Pub. L. 112–141, div. C, title I, § 31208(2), July 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 761.)
§ 30165.
Civil penalty
(a)
Civil Penalties.—
(1)
In general.—
A person that violates any of section 30112, 30115, 30117 through 30122, 30123(a), 30125(c), 30127, 30141 through 30147, or 31137, or a regulation prescribed thereunder, is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $21,000 for each violation. A separate violation occurs for each motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment and for each failure or refusal to allow or perform an act required by any of those sections. The maximum penalty under this subsection for a related series of violations is $105,000,000.
(2)
School buses.—
(A)
In general.—
Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the maximum amount of a civil penalty under this paragraph shall be $10,000 in the case of—
(i) the manufacture, sale, offer for sale, introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce, or importation of a school bus or school bus equipment (as those terms are defined in section 30125(a) of this title) in violation of section 30112(a)(1) of this title; or
(ii) a violation of section 30112(a)(2) of this title.
(B)
Related series of violations.—
A separate violation occurs for each motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment and for each failure or refusal to allow or perform an act required by that section. The maximum penalty under this paragraph for a related series of violations is $15,000,000.
(3)
Section 30166.—
Except as provided in paragraph (4), a person who violates section 30166 or a regulation prescribed under that section is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty for failing or refusing to allow or perform an act required under that section or regulation. The maximum penalty under this paragraph is $21,000 per violation per day. The maximum penalty under this paragraph for a related series of daily violations is $105,000,000.
(4)
False or misleading reports.—
A person who knowingly and willfully submits materially false or misleading information to the Secretary, after certifying the same information as accurate under the certification process established pursuant to section 30166(o), shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 per day. The maximum penalty under this paragraph for a related series of daily violations is $1,000,000.
(b)
Compromise and Setoff.—
(1) The Secretary of Transportation may compromise the amount of a civil penalty imposed under this section.
(2) The Government may deduct the amount of a civil penalty imposed or compromised under this section from amounts it owes the person liable for the penalty.
(c)
Relevant Factors in Determining Amount of Penalty or Compromise.—
In determining the amount of a civil penalty or compromise under this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall consider the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violation. Such determination shall include, as appropriate—
(1) the nature of the defect or noncompliance;
(2) knowledge by the person charged of its obligations under this chapter;
(3) the severity of the risk of injury;
(4) the occurrence or absence of injury;
(5) the number of motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment distributed with the defect or noncompliance;
(6) actions taken by the person charged to identify, investigate, or mitigate the condition;
(7) the appropriateness of such penalty in relation to the size of the business of the person charged, including the potential for undue adverse economic impacts;
(8) whether the person has been assessed civil penalties under this section during the most recent 5 years; and
(9) other appropriate factors.
(d)
Subpenas for Witnesses.—
In a civil action brought under this section, a subpena for a witness may be served in any judicial district.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 968; Pub. L. 103–429, § 6(23), Oct. 31, 1994, 108 Stat. 4380; Pub. L. 106–414, § 5(a), Nov. 1, 2000, 114 Stat. 1803; Pub. L. 109–59, title X, § 10309(c), Aug. 10, 2005, 119 Stat. 1942; Pub. L. 112–141, div. C, title I, §§ 31203(a), 31304(b), title II, § 32301(c), July 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 758, 764, 788; Pub. L. 114–94, div. B, title XXIV, § 24110(a), Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1709.)
§ 30166.
Inspections, investigations, and records
(a)
Definition.—
In this section, “motor vehicle accident” means an occurrence associated with the maintenance or operation of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment resulting in personal injury, death, or property damage.
(b)
Authority To Inspect and Investigate.—
(1)
The Secretary of Transportation may conduct an inspection or investigation—
(A) that may be necessary to enforce this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter; or
(B) related to a motor vehicle accident and designed to carry out this chapter.
(2) The Secretary of Transportation shall cooperate with State and local officials to the greatest extent possible in an inspection or investigation under paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection.
(c)
Matters That Can Be Inspected and Impoundment.—
In carrying out this chapter, an officer or employee designated by the Secretary of Transportation—
(1) at reasonable times, may inspect and copy any record related to this chapter;
(2) on request, may inspect records of a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or rental company to decide whether the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or rental company has complied or is complying with this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter;
(3)
at reasonable times, in a reasonable way, and on display of proper credentials and written notice to an owner, operator, or agent in charge, may—
(A) enter and inspect with reasonable promptness premises in which a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment is manufactured, held for introduction in interstate commerce (including at United States ports of entry), or held for sale after introduction in interstate commerce;
(B) enter and inspect with reasonable promptness premises at which a vehicle or equipment involved in a motor vehicle accident is located;
(C) inspect with reasonable promptness that vehicle or equipment; and
(D) impound for not more than 72 hours a vehicle or equipment involved in a motor vehicle accident;
(4) shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Secretary of Homeland Security for inspections and sampling of motor vehicle equipment being offered for import to determine compliance with this chapter or a regulation or order issued under this chapter.
(d)
Reasonable Compensation.—
When a motor vehicle (except a vehicle subject to subchapter I of chapter 135 of this title) or motor vehicle equipment is inspected or temporarily impounded under subsection (c)(3) of this section, the Secretary of Transportation shall pay reasonable compensation to the owner of the vehicle if the inspection or impoundment results in denial of use, or reduction in value, of the vehicle.
(e)
Records and Making Reports.—
The Secretary of Transportation reasonably may require a manufacturer of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment to keep records, and a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or rental company to make reports, to enable the Secretary to decide whether the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or rental company has complied or is complying with this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter. This subsection does not impose a recordkeeping requirement on a distributor 1
1 So in original. Probably should be followed by a comma.
dealer, or rental company in addition to those imposed under subsection (f) of this section and section 30117(b) of this title or a regulation prescribed or order issued under subsection (f) or section 30117(b).
(f)
Providing Copies of Communications About Defects and Noncompliance.—
(1)
In general.—
A manufacturer shall give the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary shall make available on a publicly accessible Internet website, a true or representative copy of each communication to the manufacturer’s dealers, rental companies, or other owners or purchasers of a motor vehicle or replacement equipment produced by the manufacturer about a defect or noncompliance with a motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter in a vehicle or equipment that is sold or serviced.
(2)
Index.—
Communications required to be submitted to the Secretary under this subsection shall be accompanied by an index to each communication, that—
(A) identifies the make, model, and model year of the affected vehicles;
(B) includes a concise summary of the subject matter of the communication; and
(C) shall be made available by the Secretary to the public on the Internet in a searchable format.
(g)
Administrative Authority on Reports, Answers, and Hearings
(1)
In carrying out this chapter, the Secretary of Transportation may—
(A) require, by general or special order, any person to file reports or answers to specific questions, including reports or answers under oath; and
(B) conduct hearings, administer oaths, take testimony, and require (by subpena or otherwise) the appearance and testimony of witnesses and the production of records the Secretary considers advisable.
(2) A witness summoned under this subsection is entitled to the same fee and mileage the witness would have been paid in a court of the United States.
(h)
Civil Actions To Enforce and Venue.—
A civil action to enforce a subpena or order under subsection (g) of this section may be brought in the United States district court for any judicial district in which the proceeding is conducted. The court may punish a failure to obey an order of the court to comply with a subpena or order as a contempt of court.
(i)
Governmental Cooperation.—
The Secretary of Transportation may request a department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States Government to provide records the Secretary considers necessary to carry out this chapter. The head of the department, agency, or instrumentality shall provide the record on request, may detail personnel on a reimbursable basis, and otherwise shall cooperate with the Secretary. This subsection does not affect a law limiting the authority of a department, agency, or instrumentality to provide information to another department, agency, or instrumentality.
(j)
Cooperation of Secretary.—
The Secretary of Transportation may advise, assist, and cooperate with departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Government, States, and other public and private agencies in developing a method for inspecting and testing to determine compliance with a motor vehicle safety standard.
(k)
Providing Information.—
The Secretary of Transportation shall provide the Attorney General and, when appropriate, the Secretary of the Treasury, information obtained that indicates a violation of this chapter or a regulation prescribed or order issued under this chapter.
(l)
Reporting of Defects in Motor Vehicles and Products in Foreign Countries.—
(1)
Reporting of defects, manufacturer determination.—
Not later than 5 working days after determining to conduct a safety recall or other safety campaign in a foreign country on a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment that is identical or substantially similar to a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment offered for sale in the United States, the manufacturer shall report the determination to the Secretary.
(2)
Reporting of defects, foreign government determination.—
Not later than 5 working days after receiving notification that the government of a foreign country has determined that a safety recall or other safety campaign must be conducted in the foreign country on a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment that is identical or substantially similar to a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment offered for sale in the United States, the manufacturer of the motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment shall report the determination to the Secretary.
(3)
Reporting requirements.—
The Secretary shall prescribe the contents of the notification required by this subsection.
(m)
Early Warning Reporting Requirements.—
(1)
Rulemaking required.—
Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, the Secretary shall initiate a rulemaking proceeding to establish early warning reporting requirements for manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to enhance the Secretary’s ability to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
(2)
Deadline.—
The Secretary shall issue a final rule under paragraph (1) not later than June 30, 2002.
(3)
Reporting elements.—
(A)
Warranty and claims data.—
As part of the final rule promulgated under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall require manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to report, periodically or upon request by the Secretary, information which is received by the manufacturer derived from foreign and domestic sources to the extent that such information may assist in the identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment in the United States and which concerns—
(i) data on claims submitted to the manufacturer for serious injuries (including death) and aggregate statistical data on property damage from alleged defects in a motor vehicle or in motor vehicle equipment; or
(ii) customer satisfaction campaigns, consumer advisories, recalls, or other activity involving the repair or replacement of motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment.
(B)
Other data.—
As part of the final rule promulgated under paragraph (1), the Secretary may, to the extent that such information may assist in the identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety in motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment in the United States, require manufacturers of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment to report, periodically or upon request of the Secretary, such information as the Secretary may request.
(C)
Reporting of possible defects.—
The manufacturer of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment shall report to the Secretary, in such manner as the Secretary establishes by regulation, all incidents of which the manufacturer receives actual notice which involve fatalities or serious injuries which are alleged or proven to have been caused by a possible defect in such manufacturer’s motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in the United States, or in a foreign country when the possible defect is in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment that is identical or substantially similar to a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment offered for sale in the United States.
(D)
Settlements.—
Notwithstanding any order entered in a civil action restricting the disclosure of information, a manufacturer of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment shall comply with the requirements of this subsection and any regulations promulgated pursuant to this subsection.
(4)
Handling and utilization of reporting elements.—
(A)
Secretary’s specifications.—
In requiring the reporting of any information requested by the Secretary under this subsection, the Secretary shall specify in the final rule promulgated under paragraph (1)—
(i) how such information will be reviewed and utilized to assist in the identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety;
(ii) the systems and processes the Secretary will employ or establish to review and utilize such information; and
(iii) the manner and form of reporting such information, including in electronic form.
(B)
Information in possession of manufacturer.—
The regulations promulgated by the Secretary under paragraph (1) may not require a manufacturer of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment to maintain or submit records respecting information not in the possession of the manufacturer.
(C)
Disclosure.—
None of the information collected pursuant to the final rule promulgated under paragraph (1) shall be disclosed pursuant to section 30167(b) unless the Secretary determines the disclosure of such information will assist in carrying out sections 30117(b) and 30118 through 30121.
(D)
Burdensome requirements.—
In promulgating the final rule under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall not impose requirements unduly burdensome to a manufacturer of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment, taking into account the manufacturer’s cost of complying with such requirements and the Secretary’s ability to use the information sought in a meaningful manner to assist in the identification of defects related to motor vehicle safety.
(5)
Periodic review.—
As part of the final rule promulgated pursuant to paragraph (1), the Secretary shall specify procedures for the periodic review and update of such rule.
(n)
Sale or Lease of Defective or Noncompliant Tire.—
(1)
In general.—
The Secretary shall, within 90 days of the date of the enactment of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, issue a final rule requiring any person who knowingly and willfully sells or leases for use on a motor vehicle a defective tire or a tire which is not compliant with an applicable tire safety standard with actual knowledge that the manufacturer of such tire has notified its dealers of such defect or noncompliance as required under section 30118(c) or as required by an order under section 30118(b) to report such sale or lease to the Secretary.
(2)
Defect or noncompliance remedied or order not in effect.—
Regulations under paragraph (1) shall not require the reporting described in paragraph (1) where before delivery under a sale or lease of a tire—
(A) the defect or noncompliance of the tire is remedied as required by section 30120; or
(B) notification of the defect or noncompliance is required under section 30118(b) but enforcement of the order is restrained or the order is set aside in a civil action to which section 30121(d) applies.
(o)
Corporate Responsibility for Reports.—
(1)
In general.—
The Secretary shall promulgate rules requiring a senior official responsible for safety in any company submitting information to the Secretary in response to a request for information in a safety defect or compliance investigation under this chapter to certify that—
(A) the signing official has reviewed the submission; and
(B)
based on the official’s knowledge, the submission does not—
(i) contain any untrue statement of a material fact; or
(ii) omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made not misleading, in light of the circumstances under which such statements were made.
(2)
Notice.—
The certification requirements of this section shall be clearly stated on any request for information under paragraph (1).
(3)
Deadline.—
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015, the Secretary shall issue a final rule under paragraph (1).
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 969; Pub. L. 103–429, § 6(24), Oct. 31, 1994, 108 Stat. 4380; Pub. L. 104–88, title III, § 308(j), Dec. 29, 1995, 109 Stat. 947; Pub. L. 104–287, § 6(f)(3), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3399; Pub. L. 106–414, § 3(a)–(c), Nov. 1, 2000, 114 Stat. 1800–1802; Pub. L. 112–141, div. C, title I, §§ 31209, 31303(a), 31304(a), July 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 762, 764; Pub. L. 114–94, div. B, title XXIV, §§ 24109(e), 24112, Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1707, 1709; Pub. L. 117–58, div. B, title IV, § 24216(a), Nov. 15, 2021, 135 Stat. 830.)
§ 30167.
Disclosure of information by the Secretary of Transportation
(a)
Confidentiality of Information.—
Information obtained under this chapter related to a confidential matter referred to in section 1905 of title 18 may be disclosed only in the following ways:
(1) to other officers and employees carrying out this chapter.
(2) when relevant to a proceeding under this chapter.
(3) to the public if the confidentiality of the information is preserved.
(4) to the public when the Secretary of Transportation decides that disclosure is necessary to carry out section 30101 of this title.
(b)
Defect and Noncompliance Information.—
Subject to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary shall disclose information obtained under this chapter related to a defect or noncompliance that the Secretary decides will assist in carrying out sections 30117(b) and 30118–30121 of this title or that is required to be disclosed under section 30118(a) of this title. A requirement to disclose information under this subsection is in addition to the requirements of section 552 of title 5.
(c)
Information About Manufacturer’s Increased Costs.—
A manufacturer opposing an action of the Secretary under this chapter because of increased cost shall submit to the Secretary information about the increased cost, including the manufacturer’s cost and the cost to retail purchasers, that allows the public and the Secretary to evaluate the manufacturer’s statement. The Secretary shall evaluate the information promptly and, subject to subsection (a) of this section, shall make the information and evaluation available to the public. The Secretary shall publish a notice in the Federal Register that the information is available.
(d)
Withholding Information From Congress.—
This section does not authorize information to be withheld from a committee of Congress authorized to have the information.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 970.)
[§ 30168.
Repealed. Pub. L. 112–141, div. C, title I, § 31204(b)(2)(B), July 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 760]
§ 30169.
Annual reports
(a)
General Report.—
The Secretary of Transportation shall submit to the President to submit to Congress on July 1 of each year a report on the administration of this chapter for the prior calendar year. The report shall include—
(1) a thorough statistical compilation of accidents and injuries;
(2) motor vehicle safety standards in effect or prescribed under this chapter;
(3) the degree of observance of the standards;
(4) a summary of current research grants and contracts and a description of the problems to be considered under those grants and contracts;
(5) an analysis and evaluation of research activities completed and technological progress achieved;
(6) enforcement actions;
(7) the extent to which technical information was given the scientific community and consumer-oriented information was made available to the public; and
(8) recommendations for legislation needed to promote cooperation among the States in improving traffic safety and strengthening the national traffic safety program.
(b)
Report on Importing Motor Vehicles.—
Not later than 18 months after regulations are first prescribed under section 2(e)(1)(B) of the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report of the actions taken to carry out subchapter III of this chapter and the effectiveness of those actions, including any testing by the Secretary under section 30146(c)(2) of this title. After the first report, the Secretary shall submit a report to Congress under this subsection not later than July 31 of each year.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 972.)
§ 30170.
Criminal Penalties
(a)
Criminal Liability for Falsifying or Withholding Information.—
(1)
General rule.—
A person who violates section 1001 of title 18 with respect to the reporting requirements of section 30166, with the specific intention of misleading the Secretary with respect to motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment safety related defects that have caused death or serious bodily injury to an individual (as defined in section 1365(g)(3) 1
1 See References in Text note below.
of title 18), shall be subject to criminal penalties of a fine under title 18, or imprisoned for not more than 15 years, or both.
(2)
Safe harbor to encourage reporting and for whistle blowers.—
(A)
Correction.—
A person described in paragraph (1) shall not be subject to criminal penalties under this subsection if: (1) at the time of the violation, such person does not know that the violation would result in an accident causing death or serious bodily injury; and (2) the person corrects any improper reports or failure to report within a reasonable time.
(B)
Reasonable time and sufficiency of correction.—
The Secretary shall establish by regulation what constitutes a reasonable time for the purposes of subparagraph (A) and what manner of correction is sufficient for purposes of subparagraph (A). The Secretary shall issue a final rule under this subparagraph within 90 days of the date of the enactment of this section.
(C)
Effective date.—
Subsection (a) shall not take effect before the final rule under subparagraph (B) takes effect.
(b)
Coordination with Department of Justice.—
The Attorney General may bring an action, or initiate grand jury proceedings, for a violation of subsection (a) only at the request of the Secretary of Transportation.
(Added Pub. L. 106–414, § 5(b)(1), Nov. 1, 2000, 114 Stat. 1803.)
§ 30171.
Protection of employees providing motor vehicle safety information
(a)
Discrimination Against Employees of Manufacturers, Part Suppliers, and Dealerships.—
No motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership may discharge an employee or otherwise discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because the employee (or any person acting pursuant to a request of the employee)—
(1) provided, caused to be provided, or is about to provide (with any knowledge of the employer) or cause to be provided to the employer or the Secretary of Transportation information relating to any motor vehicle defect, noncompliance, or any violation or alleged violation of any notification or reporting requirement of this chapter;
(2) has filed, caused to be filed, or is about to file (with any knowledge of the employer) or cause to be filed a proceeding relating to any violation or alleged violation of any motor vehicle defect, noncompliance, or any violation or alleged violation of any notification or reporting requirement of this chapter;
(3) testified or is about to testify in such a proceeding;
(4) assisted or participated or is about to assist or participate in such a proceeding; or
(5) objected to, or refused to participate in, any activity that the employee reasonably believed to be in violation of any provision of chapter 301 of this title, or any order, rule, regulation, standard, or ban under such provision.
(b)
Complaint Procedure.—
(1)
Filing and notification.—
A person who believes that he or she has been discharged or otherwise discriminated against by any person in violation of subsection (a) may file (or have any person file on his or her behalf), not later than 180 days after the date on which such violation occurs, a complaint with the Secretary of Labor (hereinafter in this section referred to as the “Secretary”) alleging such discharge or discrimination. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the Secretary shall notify, in writing, the person named in the complaint of the filing of the complaint, of the allegations contained in the complaint, of the substance of evidence supporting the complaint, and of the opportunities that will be afforded to such person under paragraph (2).
(2)
Investigation; preliminary order.—
(A)
In general.—
Not later than 60 days after the date of receipt of a complaint filed under paragraph (1) and after affording the person named in the complaint an opportunity to submit to the Secretary a written response to the complaint and an opportunity to meet with a representative of the Secretary to present statements from witnesses, the Secretary shall conduct an investigation and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the complaint has merit and notify, in writing, the complainant and the person alleged to have committed a violation of subsection (a) of the Secretary’s findings. If the Secretary concludes that there is a reasonable cause to believe that a violation of subsection (a) has occurred, the Secretary shall accompany the Secretary’s findings with a preliminary order providing the relief prescribed by paragraph (3)(B). Not later than 30 days after the date of notification of findings under this paragraph, either the person alleged to have committed the violation or the complainant may file objections to the findings or preliminary order, or both, and request a hearing on the record. The filing of such objections shall not operate to stay any reinstatement remedy contained in the preliminary order. Such hearings shall be conducted expeditiously. If a hearing is not requested in such 30-day period, the preliminary order shall be deemed a final order that is not subject to judicial review.
(B)
Requirements.—
(i)
Required showing by complainant.—
The Secretary shall dismiss a complaint filed under this subsection and shall not conduct an investigation otherwise required under subparagraph (A) unless the complainant makes a prima facie showing that any behavior described in paragraphs (1) through (5) of subsection (a) was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action alleged in the complaint.
(ii)
Showing by employer.—
Notwithstanding a finding by the Secretary that the complainant has made the showing required under clause (i), no investigation otherwise required under subparagraph (A) shall be conducted if the employer demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that the employer would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of that behavior.
(iii)
Criteria for determination by secretary.—
The Secretary may determine that a violation of subsection (a) has occurred only if the complainant demonstrates that any behavior described in paragraphs (1) through (5) of subsection (a) was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action alleged in the complaint.
(iv)
Prohibition.—
Relief may not be ordered under subparagraph (A) if the employer demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that the employer would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of that behavior.
(3)
Final order.—
(A)
Deadline for issuance; settlement agreements.—
Not later than 120 days after the date of conclusion of a hearing under paragraph (2), the Secretary shall issue a final order providing the relief prescribed by this paragraph or denying the complaint. At any time before issuance of a final order, a proceeding under this subsection may be terminated on the basis of a settlement agreement entered into by the Secretary, the complainant, and the person alleged to have committed the violation.
(B)
Remedy.—
If, in response to a complaint filed under paragraph (1), the Secretary determines that a violation of subsection (a) has occurred, the Secretary shall order the person who committed such violation—
(i) to take affirmative action to abate the violation;
(ii) to reinstate the complainant to his or her former position together with the compensation (including back pay) and restore the terms, conditions, and privileges associated with his or her employment; and
(iii) to provide compensatory damages to the complainant.
(C)
Attorneys’ fees.—
If such an order is issued under this paragraph, the Secretary, at the request of the complainant, shall assess against the person against whom the order is issued a sum equal to the aggregate amount of all costs and expenses (including attorneys’ and expert witness fees) reasonably incurred, as determined by the Secretary, by the complainant for, or in connection with, bringing the complaint upon which the order was issued.
(D)
Frivolous complaints.—
If the Secretary determines that a complaint under paragraph (1) is frivolous or has been brought in bad faith, the Secretary may award to the prevailing employer a reasonable attorney’s fee not exceeding $1,000.
(E)
De novo review.—
With respect to a complaint under paragraph (1), if the Secretary has not issued a final decision within 210 days after the filing of the complaint and if the delay is not due to the bad faith of the employee, the employee may bring an original action at law or equity for de novo review in the appropriate district court of the United States, which shall have jurisdiction over such an action without regard to the amount in controversy, and which action shall, at the request of either party to the action, be tried by the court with a jury. The action shall be governed by the same legal burdens of proof specified in paragraph (2)(B) for review by the Secretary.
(4)
Review.—
(A)
Appeal to court of appeals.—
Any person adversely affected or aggrieved by an order issued under paragraph (3) may obtain review of the order in the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the violation, with respect to which the order was issued, allegedly occurred or the circuit in which the complainant resided on the date of such violation. The petition for review shall be filed not later than 60 days after the date of the issuance of the final order of the Secretary. Review shall conform to chapter 7 of title 5. The commencement of proceedings under this subparagraph shall not, unless ordered by the court, operate as a stay of the order.
(B)
Limitation on collateral attack.—
An order of the Secretary with respect to which review could have been obtained under subparagraph (A) shall not be subject to judicial review in any criminal or other civil proceeding.
(5)
Enforcement of order by secretary.—
Whenever any person fails to comply with an order issued under paragraph (3), the Secretary may file a civil action in the United States district court for the district in which the violation was found to occur to enforce such order. In actions brought under this paragraph, the district courts shall have jurisdiction to grant all appropriate relief, including injunctive relief and compensatory damages.
(6)
Enforcement of order by parties.—
(A)
Commencement of action.—
A person on whose behalf an order was issued under paragraph (3) may commence a civil action against the person to whom such order was issued to require compliance with such order. The appropriate United States district court shall have jurisdiction, without regard to the amount in controversy or the citizenship of the parties, to enforce such order.
(B)
Attorney fees.—
The court, in issuing any final order under this paragraph, may award costs of litigation (including reasonable attorney and expert witness fees) to any party whenever the court determines such award is appropriate.
(c)
Mandamus.—
Any nondiscretionary duty imposed under this section shall be enforceable in a mandamus proceeding brought under section 1361 of title 28.
(d)
Nonapplicability To Deliberate Violations.—
Subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to an employee of a motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership who, acting without direction from such motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership (or such person’s agent), deliberately causes a violation of any requirement relating to motor vehicle safety under this chapter.
(Added Pub. L. 112–141, div. C, title I, § 31307(a), July 6, 2012, 126 Stat. 765.)
§ 30172.
Whistleblower incentives and protections
(a)
Definitions.—
In this section:
(1)
Covered action.—
The term “covered action” means any administrative or judicial action, including any related administrative or judicial action, brought by the Secretary or the Attorney General under this chapter that in the aggregate results in monetary sanctions exceeding $1,000,000.
(2)
Monetary sanctions.—
The term “monetary sanctions” means monies, including penalties and interest, ordered or agreed to be paid.
(3)
Original information.—
The term “original information” means information that—
(A) is derived from the independent knowledge or analysis of an individual;
(B) is not known to the Secretary from any other source, unless the individual is the original source of the information; and
(C) is not exclusively derived from an allegation made in a judicial or an administrative action, in a governmental report, a hearing, an audit, or an investigation, or from the news media, unless the individual is a source of the information.
(4)
Part supplier.—
The term “part supplier” means a manufacturer of motor vehicle equipment.
(5)
Successful resolution.—
The term “successful resolution”, with respect to a covered action, includes any settlement or adjudication of the covered action.
(6)
Whistleblower.—
The term “whistleblower” means any employee or contractor of a motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership who voluntarily provides to the Secretary original information relating to any motor vehicle defect, noncompliance, or any violation or alleged violation of any notification or reporting requirement of this chapter, which is likely to cause unreasonable risk of death or serious physical injury.
(b)
Awards.—
(1)
In general.—
If the original information that a whistleblower provided to the Secretary leads to the successful resolution of a covered action, the Secretary, subject to subsection (c), may pay an award or awards to one or more whistleblowers in an aggregate amount of—
(A) not less than 10 percent, in total, of collected monetary sanctions; and
(B) not more than 30 percent, in total, of collected monetary sanctions.
(2)
Payment of awards.—
Any amount payable under paragraph (1) shall be paid from the monetary sanctions collected, and any monetary sanctions so collected shall be available for such payment.
(c)
Determination of Awards; Denial of Awards.—
(1)
Determination of awards.—
(A)
Discretion.—
The determination of whether, to whom, or in what amount to make an award shall be in the discretion of the Secretary subject to the provisions in subsection (b)(1).
(B)
Criteria.—
In determining an award made under subsection (b), the Secretary shall take into consideration—
(i) if appropriate, whether a whistleblower reported or attempted to report the information internally to an applicable motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership;
(ii) the significance of the original information provided by the whistleblower to the successful resolution of the covered action;
(iii) the degree of assistance provided by the whistleblower and any legal representative of the whistleblower in the covered action; and
(iv) such additional factors as the Secretary considers relevant.
(2)
Denial of awards.—
No award under subsection (b) shall be made—
(A) to any whistleblower who is convicted of a criminal violation related to the covered action for which the whistleblower otherwise could receive an award under this section;
(B) to any whistleblower who, acting without direction from an applicable motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership, or agent thereof, deliberately causes or substantially contributes to the alleged violation of a requirement of this chapter;
(C) to any whistleblower who submits information to the Secretary that is based on the facts underlying the covered action submitted previously by another whistleblower;
(D) to any whistleblower who fails to provide the original information to the Secretary in such form as the Secretary may require by regulation; or
(E)
if the applicable motor vehicle manufacturer, parts supplier, or dealership has an internal reporting mechanism in place to protect employees from retaliation, to any whistleblower who fails to report or attempt to report the information internally through such mechanism, unless—
(i) the whistleblower reasonably believed that such an internal report would have resulted in retaliation, notwithstanding section 30171(a);
(ii)
the whistleblower reasonably believed that the information—
(I) was already internally reported;(II) was already subject to or part of an internal inquiry or investigation; or(III) was otherwise already known to the motor vehicle manufacturer, part supplier, or dealership; or
(iii) the Secretary has good cause to waive this requirement.
(d)
Representation.—
A whistleblower may be represented by counsel.
(e)
No Contract Necessary.—
No contract with the Secretary is necessary for any whistleblower to receive an award under subsection (b).
(f)
Protection of Whistleblowers; Confidentiality.—
(1)
In general.—
Notwithstanding section 30167, and except as provided in paragraphs (4) and (5) of this subsection, the Secretary, and any officer or employee of the Department of Transportation, shall not disclose any information, including information provided by a whistleblower to the Secretary, which could reasonably be expected to reveal the identity of a whistleblower, except in accordance with the provisions of section 552a of title 5, unless—
(A) required to be disclosed to a defendant or respondent in connection with a public proceeding instituted by the Secretary or any entity described in paragraph (5);
(B) the whistleblower provides prior written consent for the information to be disclosed; or
(C) the Secretary, or other officer or employee of the Department of Transportation, receives the information through another source, such as during an inspection or investigation under section 30166, and has authority under other law to release the information.
(2)
Redaction.—
The Secretary, and any officer or employee of the Department of Transportation, shall take reasonable measures to not reveal the identity of the whistleblower when disclosing any information under paragraph (1).
(3)
Section 552(b)(3)(b).—
For purposes of section 552 of title 5, paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be considered a statute described in subsection (b)(3)(B) of that section.
(4)
Effect.—
Nothing in this subsection is intended to limit the ability of the Attorney General to present such evidence to a grand jury or to share such evidence with potential witnesses or defendants in the course of an ongoing criminal investigation.
(5)
Availability to government agencies.—
(A)
In general.—
Without the loss of its status as confidential in the hands of the Secretary, all information referred to in paragraph (1) may, in the discretion of the Secretary, when determined by the Secretary to be necessary or appropriate to accomplish the purposes of this chapter and in accordance with subparagraph (B), be made available to the following:
(i) The Department of Justice.
(ii) An appropriate department or agency of the Federal Government, acting within the scope of its jurisdiction.
(B)
Maintenance of information.—
Each entity described in subparagraph (A) shall maintain information described in that subparagraph as confidential, in accordance with the requirements in paragraph (1).
(g)
Provision of False Information.—
A whistleblower who knowingly and intentionally makes any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation, or who makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, shall not be entitled to an award under this section and shall be subject to prosecution under section 1001 of title 18.
(h)
Appeals.—
(1)
In general.—
Any determination made under this section, including whether, to whom, or in what amount to make an award, shall be in the discretion of the Secretary.
(2)
Appeals.—
Any determination made by the Secretary under this section may be appealed by a whistleblower to the appropriate court of appeals of the United States not later than 30 days after the determination is issued by the Secretary.
(3)
Review.—
The court shall review the determination made by the Secretary in accordance with section 706 of title 5.
(i)
Regulation.—
Not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations on the requirements of this section, consistent with this section.
(Added Pub. L. 114–94, div. B, title XXIV, § 24352(a), Dec. 4, 2015, 129 Stat. 1716.)