Friday, August 14, 2015

Understanding Why Navistar International Failed to Respond to Our Inquiry About the BISD School Bus Fires

The huge Navistar International Corporation manufactured the two BISD school buses that caught fire in October 2013 with 30 and 29 students aboard.

While BISD hired Dynamic Technical Consultants from Raleigh, NC to conduct an investigation as to the cause or causes of the fires, Navistar International sent their own investigative team. BISD eventually released their investigative report to us following our protest to then Attorney General Greg Abbott that BISD's claim of "contemplated litigation" could obstruct almost any public information request.  BISD backed away from that position and released the report along with a cover letter from BISD Attorney Miguel Salinas.

We also gave Navistar International the opportunity to share their investigative report, reasoning this way in a June 2014 Mean Mister Brownsville story:

Meanwhile, Navistar, the parent company of IC or the International Corporation, has some of the same responsibilities as BISD when it comes to the public dissemination of information. While BISD is a taxpayer-funded entity, Navistar is a publicly-traded entity. Just as BISD has a Public Information Officer, Navistar has a Manager of General Business Media Inquiries.

Last June we were given the phone number of Navistar's Manager of General Business Media Inquiries and called.  The manager was not in his office, but we were given an appointment to contact him via phone.  That call went straight to voice mail where we gave a detailed description of our public information request. Navistar International never responded.

Since our public information request was ignored by Navistar International, media reports seem to explain the company's reluctance to comment on the safety, reliability and durability of their manufactured product.

The Ford Motor Company found the diesel engines manufactured by Navistar International unreliable and defective, settling a huge class action suit with the manufacturer.  But, that was not the end of Navistar's troubles.

The Environmental Protection Agency discovered that thousands of engines built and sold by Navistar for heavy duty trucks didn't comply with stricter government regulations on exhaust pollution.  It has been estimated that Navistar International could pay as much as $300,000,000 in civil penalties.  

Overdrive, an online website magazine dedicated to trucking also reports of a class action suit by independent truck lines against Navistar:  

The suit, brought by carriers Denis Gray Trucking, Carmichael Leasing and GTL Enterprises, also claim Navistar failed to properly repair the engines during the warranty period, thereby decreasing their trucks’ value and shortening the expected life of the engine. Those who bought International trucks with MaxxForce engines “did not get what they paid for,” the lawsuit alleges.

The above reports may help understand why Navistar's "Public Information Officer" would ignore requests from the public about the safety, reliability and performance of the company's product.

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