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

Jim Luff
Posted on July 23, 2014
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

Related Topics: California operators, California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC, Jim Luff, law enforcement, limousine fires, regulatory enforcement

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Comments ( 3 )
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  • anthony

     | about 6 years ago

    a limousine company owner (friend of mine) had a 2000 Lincoln town car around 2005 and he told me that on a trip to the airport the customer rolled the divider and told him he could smell smoke or something burning. The driver/owner pulled over to the shoulder and found the rear passenger side inside wheel well was on fire/smoke. he took dirt from the shoulder and put the small fire out. called for another limo for the passengers. he had a seal on the rear end go out, the gear oil had dripped on the wheel and the friction without any gear oil caused it to ignite. the charges to replace the seals/bearing and shaft was around 3,500 dollars, it cost 900.00 to do the maintenance of replacing the rear seals on the diff. there is no drain plug on the rear diff cover and the fluids are low end to high end rating. I use high end rear diff fluid that is replaced from 10k to 15k. I also use a lazer temp gadget to monitor temperatures for the exhaust/rear diff and if I do a long trip I point the lazer to each wheels center to make sure I have no issue with bearings going out since they would create friction and with the lazer temp gadget I would get a higher reading from a possible problem

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