Global Automakers submitted a letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee requesting his veto of SB 6137, a bill the places a legal requirement on automakers to certify that recall issues do not affect the safe operation of the vehicle. The March 9 letter reiterates Global Automakers members' commitment to vehicle safety, including the goal of 100 percent recall completions. The letter acknowledges the State of Washington, too, shares a commitment to protecting drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others who use public roads and transportation. However, SB 6137 does not accomplish this goal.
Section 1 of SB 6137 provides that where there is no “stop-sale” order associated with a recall, a manufacturer must certify that the issue identified in the notice of recall does not affect the safe operation of the vehicle, or else compensate the dealer as if there were a “stop-sale” order. The language in Section 1 places a legal requirement on manufacturers while at the same time relieving the dealer of any responsibility or obligation to notify consumers at the time of purchase, that an open recall may exist. Disclosure to the purchaser or lessee, at any time during the transaction, that a vehicle has an open safety recall should be a priority for dealers. Section 3 of SB 6137 provides legal standing to associations composed of new motor vehicle dealers to file petitions with the Department of Licensing or complaints in Court for itself or on behalf of dealers for any violation of the Washington Dealer Act. There is no basis to expand standing to dealer associations and corporations that may own numerous dealerships as harm to a petitioner or plaintiff should continue to be a prerequisite for bringing an action for an alleged violation. Section 3 would also allow the court to award treble damages for a willful violation. Under existing law, a dealer (but not a manufacturer) is already entitled to recover its costs and attorneys’ fees if it prevails in a civil action. Including a treble damages provision will induce plaintiff’s lawyers to bring more litigation by creating a “bounty” for it.