$20,000 Fine For Fatal Limo Fire Slashed To $5,000?!

Posted on July 23, 2014 by - Also by this author

That limo fire in which five women burned to death will cost you $5,000!
That limo fire in which five women burned to death will cost you $5,000!

Limo Stop, the company that was involved in a May 4, 2013 limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge, must be jumping for joy as the initial fine of $20,000 levied by the California Public Utilities Commission was reduced last week to a measly, slap-on-the-wrist, $5,000 fine.

Say what? Why did this happen? Because Limo Stop made a promise to not have any further violations in the next three years. On that promise, their fine was reduced from $20,000 to $10,000. Still not satisfied with that fine, Limo Stop appealed the reduced fine so it was slashed again last week. How about that? If you promise not to overload your limousine, promise not to hire an inept chauffeur, and promise to avoid any more worst tragedies in the history of the limo industry, you only have to pay $5,000!?

This isn't Limo Stop owner Kulta Singh's first tangle with the PUC. In May 2007, Singh's authority to operate was suspended for failing to maintain insurance, according to public records. The fire was attributed to a suspension failure that caused enough heat to develop under the limousine that the carpet caught fire and burst into flames killing five passengers. However, the California Highway Patrol was unable to conclusively say that overloading was the actual cause. As a result, no criminal charges were filed against the chauffeur or the company. But the company was cited for failing to maintain a proper drug and alcohol testing program as a result of the investigation.

This decision has infuriated California State Sen. Jerry Hill, as he is waging a battle to improve the safety of the limousine industry in California. In a press conference, he stated that the decrease in the fine was “an embarrassment for California and the citizens of California,” and vowed to increase PUC enforcement as well as CHP oversight of the industry.

Well, a travesty created by one arm of state government now fuels the outrage of another, and could fuel actions that leave limousine operators stuck with rules that may or may not address the real problem.

LCT related article: Fatal Limo Fire Fine Cut By 75%

-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor

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