Archive for the ‘state programs’ category

More on Almost Million dollar Bystander Cse

March 17, 2009

Even though one of the conditions of the bystander’s million dollar broken hip case was partial confidentiality you can find the original lawsuit here on the Your Missouri Courts site. Type in: Friend, Doris or type in case number 0716-CV13432 and Doris Friend et al v. Rolling Wheels (et al) comes up. Click on the case number then, in the menu bar above, Parties & Attorneys. Scroll down and you’ll find Motorcycle Safety Foundation. This confirm the MSF was the “national licensing organization”—as if there was any doubt. I spoke with Danny Thomas, the plaintiff’s attorney late last week. Here is what he had to say:

Note: Danny Thomas, of Humphrey, Farrington & McLain never referred to MSF as anything except in vague terms such as “anonymous defendant” or “national licensing organization” or the Basic RiderCourse as “the curriculum the school used.” However, since the Your Missouri Court site does identify MSF and that means the BRC I will use those terms in the following.

The school involved was Rolling Wheels Training Center and here’s the range—though according to a source, it’s been moved further east than it appears in the Google satellite photo. The range has a 40’ run-off—but immediately beyond the run-off area are parking spaces that are regularly is use. The range has a 3-degree slant sloping from north to south.

The crash occurred on Wednesday July 5, 2006 at 8:30 am in Exercise 2, Part III. The rider was riding a Honda Rebel that weighed 300 lbs (engine sized was not available). She had fallen in the same part of the exercise before she had the run-off. She rode south and downhill off the range towards the stores and traveled less than 100 feet from the range before hitting the car.

Doris Friend was just putting her drycleaning in her car when the student hit it so hard it raised up in the air and towards Friend. As it came down the car hit Friend knocking her over and breaking her hip. The student was also injured and also transported to the emergency room by ambulance but was not as seriously injured as Friend.

In this case, of course, the liability-waiver did not apply. After the suit was filed, there was not a great deal of cooperation on MSF’s part. During the discovery phase, Thomas repeatedly requested MSF make insurance claims on incident reports from 2002-2006 and that used the BRC. Thomas said MSF refused to turn them over and protested that in no other lawsuit had they been compelled to do so. The judge finally had to order MSF to release them.

Thomas first said they sent between 20,000 and 40,000. Only incidents at sites that had purchased MSF RiderCourse Insurance were included. All programs/sites that use another insurance carrier were not included.

“Not all of them,” Thomas said, “were injury crashes.”

MSF’s policy is that an incident report be filled out if there’s any property damage or injury—even if minor. According to the RiderCourse Insurance Plan brochure, MSF has a $25,000 self insured retention (SIR), commonly called a deductible) on each occurrence for liability. MSF pays up to that $25,000 directly without involving the insurance company.

Thomas didn’t know if incident reports below those limits were included.

Within a few days of Thomas receiving the incident reports—and before he another attorney had a chance to look more than a fraction of them—MSF’s attorneys contacted them asking for a settlement.

One of the conditions of the settlement was that all of the incident reports be returned immediately. An administrator of a fairly large program commented that it’s as if the huge settlement was more to hide what was in the incident reports than for the broken hip itself.

Thomas never had the opportunity to catalogue all the injuries or what kind they were. What he saw, though, disturbed him greatly.

Thomas said early on in the conversation that there had been seven deaths since 2002. At a later point in the conversation he once again said there had been seven deaths “since the current curriculum has been taught.”

I clarified that there had been six from 2002 on that I had discovered: Fenton, MO, Laconia, NH, Colorado Springs, CO, Valencia, CA, Kenosha, WI, and Honesdale, PA. He stopped me at that point—the one in Pennsylvania didn’t count as it was prior to the BRC. No, that one happened in Valley Forge in 1998, I said. There was another one in Honesdale, PA in 2007.

There was a stunned silence on the other end of the line and then he said he hadn’t known about that one. There was also a crash that resulted in quadriplegia two weeks later in Sugar Notch, PA, I added. If anything the silence was deeper, more shocked. He said he hadn’t known that either.

At which point I was a bit stunned—if he wasn’t counting either death in Pennsylvania—it could mean there are two other deaths that have so far been hidden from the motorcycling and rider education community—and the general public.

If there has been two more deaths, all eight occurred since 2002 and all eight deaths were in courses taught with student-centered, adult-learning instruction. Unfortunately, he couldn’t recall where those deaths occurred and he had to go on to another meeting. So far, a request for further information has not be responded to—but if it is, I’ll be sure to let readers know.

Thomas is appalled at what he has learned about rider training under this organization. He said he wanted the public to find out about the case, wanted people to know what they were getting into—though so far news of the case has only made it into Missouri Lawyers Weekly.

“It’s a horrible program,” he said. “Horrible.”

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The March to Take Over State Programs Continues: NJ set to fall?

January 24, 2009

A dear friend was the first to tell me MSF took over the New York program. And yesterday, he sent me word of a bill in the New Jersey Assembly. He thought I’d be interested because it would establish cc. restrictions on motorcycle license test taken at the DMV on a small bike. I asked him to send me the bill and read it immediately then told him, “Dear, dear boy, you buried the lead!” And he did:

Here’s the real lead: Assembly 3292, amends the current motorcycle licensing and training course legislation to pave the way for MSF—or T3RG or something like that—to take over the state program the moment the bill is passed.

  • The bill also removes the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Committee from the ability to consult about the motorcycle safety education course.
  • New Jersey already had the skills test waiver for graduating from a training course, but the bill also removes “the written portion of the motorcycle examinations required for motorcycle endorsement, provided the individual enrolls in and successfully completes” an authorized motorcycle safety education course.
  • The legislation does not require that the motorcycle safety training have either written or skills tests at the end of the course.
  • The bill also adds restrictions on some riders:
  • Anyone who takes the endorsement test at a licensing center on a motorcycle or scooter that’s 231cc. or smaller is restricted to a motorcycle that’s 500cc or smaller. This, however, will not apply for a successful graduate of a motorcycle training course.
  • Those under 18 would be required to take the course.
  • And those who ride with a permit cannot ride from a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise, nor carry a passenger, nor ride on any toll road or even on a limited access highway.
  • The bill removes the requirement that motorcycle permit holders under 21 have supervision while riding for the first six months.
  • It also raises the cost of a motorcycle license or endorsement from $18—which is what car drivers pay—to $24. That’s an 33% increase. $11 of that fee will go to the Motorcycle Safety Education Fund.
  • Immediately on the passage of the bill—and already part of the legislation—the administrator may charge a road test waiver fee and a course certification fee for each location. The amount of either fee is not in the legislation.
  • And it removes the limitation on how much students can be charged to take the course. Previously, only if the funds in the Motorcycle Safety Education Fund were not sufficient to cover the costs of the program could the chief administrator charge a registration fee. It would now read, “The chief administrator may impose a registration fee to be paid by the participants in the course.” It does not establish a ceiling on how much that registration fee would be.

Here’s the part of the bill that would allow MSF or a private business like T3RG to take over the program, “Notwithstanding subsection a. of this section, the chief administrator may enter into a contract with a public or private entity authorizing such an entity to implement and administer the motorcycle safety education course established by the chief administrator pursuant to this section The chief administrator may suspend or revoke an authorization to administer the motorcycle safety course on any reasonable ground.”

Subsection a. reads “shall establish a motorcycle safety education program. The program shall consist of a course of instruction and training designed to develop and instill the knowledge, attitudes, habits and skills necessary for the safe operation and riding of a motorcycle and shall meet or exceed standards and requirements of the rider’s course developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.”

Dealers already could offer motorcycle training but the bill also adds “private entities” can also offer motorcycle training. “The motorcycle safety education course provided by the private entity shall meet or exceed the standards and requirements developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation including but not limited to course curriculum, motorcycle range, and motorcycle instructor curriculum.”

This part is also not new—except the title of who does the setting. It’s still noteworthy: The Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission also sets “the minimum level of knowledge, skill and ability requirements for the successful completion of the motorcycle safety education course.”

Sponsor

The bill, was sponsored by Joseph Cryan (D), District 20 (Union). He’s the Deputy Majority Leader and on the Education and the Budget Committees. Cryan is also the chair of the Democratic State Committee.

The bill does not appear on his page but does here and has been referred to the Assembly transportation, Public Works and Individual Authorities Committee. It is not yet scheduled for a hearing.

When effective?

All but the restrictions on engine displacement and the increased fee for the license would be effective the moment the bill is passed. The cc. restriction and fee would be effective but inoperable until the Motor Vehicle Commission is prepared to implement them.

Lobbying

Both Harley-Davidson and the Motorcycle Industry Council were both represented by different lobbyists.

Pay-to-Play

As of January, 2008, New Jersey’s pay-to-play disclosure law does not apply to non-profits who contract with the government.

My analysis and comments will be found on Riderchick.