Should NHTSA track private litigation?

Sept. 21, 2015

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published a “Request for public comments” notice regarding a proposal to collect what is today private information contained in protective orders and settlement agreements.

In an announcement published in the September 21 Federal Register, NHTSA says that motor vehicle manufacturers are not doing a good job reporting information to NHTSA.  Under the current system, which NHTSA describes as largely self-reporting, manufacturers either do not report or they frequently are not prompt in doing so.  The agency believes that safety-related information contained in private litigation would be “an important resource” for NHTSA.

“To the extent protective orders, settlement agreements, or other confidentiality provisions prohibit information obtained in private litigation from being transmitted to NHTSA, such limitations are contrary to Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, its state corollaries, and sound principles of public policy.”

NHTSA recommends that litigants include a specific provision in any protective order or settlement agreement that provides for disclosure of relevant motor vehicle safety information to NHTSA, regardless of any other restrictions on the disclosure or dissemination of such information.

All comments should be submitted early enough to ensure that Docket Management receives them not later than October 19, 2015.

To read the full announcement, click here.