Federal judge hears NHTSA, ABS case

Attorneys for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and ABS Inc met in federal district court Feb 22, 2002, as litigation continued regarding use of the MSQR-5000 antilock brake system produced by ABS Inc.

At the hearing, ABS Inc argued that NHTSA overstepped its bounds when its chief counsel's office wrote that the MSQR-5000 did not fully comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 121. The manufacturer's attorney claimed that the letter constituted an adjudication, and that NHTSA did not follow prescribed procedures for such an action. The agency countered that the letter, written in response to a request from MAC Trailer, was an interpretation letter that gave an opinion as to whether the MSQR-5000 satisfies requirements of the regulation. Under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, the agency is required to respond to such inquiries, NHTSA told the judge.

The MSQR-5000 is designed to control wheel lockup without using electronics. ABS Inc says sales of the system have been severely impacted as contents of the letter circulated through the industry. The hearing ended with Judge David Lawson promising a written opinion on the case.

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