One day in April, 2016, the parking brake on one of Flavio Borges Prado’s trucks failed, causing the vehicle to roll down a hill and collide into a residential housing structure, injuring the driver and causing significant damage to the property.
This wasn’t just bad luck for the Massachusetts trucking company; a month later, a similar brake failure on a different Flavio Borges Prado vehicle caused the truck to break down in a roadway travel lane and required removal by a tow-truck.
Every vehicle had defects
Those incidents occurred while the Massachusetts-based company, which does business as Golden Eagle Delivery, was already being investigated by the feds. During that process, out-of-service safety violations were discovered in every company vehicle inspected. These safety defects included worn, leaking, welded, or missing brake, steering, and/or suspension components.
After concluding that investigation and determining that the carrier poses an imminent hazard to public safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered the company to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate operations.
The saga began in April 2016, when Flavio Borges Prado initially failed to submit to a New Entrant Safety Audit as required by federal regulations. The company had received an FMCSA order to cease operations, which was subsequently rescinded after the carrier submitted to the New Entrant Safety Audit.
What investigators found
During the subsequent federal compliance review investigation, FMCSA safety investigators found the company to be in violation of multiple federal safety regulations including:
- Failing to ensure that its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained, and repaired and met minimum safety standards.
- Failing to require that drivers conduct pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections and submit reports of safety defects to the company in order to make repairs.
- Dispatching vehicles with known safety defects that had been discovered during roadside inspections without making the required repairs.
During the investigation, Flavio Borges Prado was unable to produce records demonstrating that the company had a vehicle maintenance program of any kind.
FMCSA’s order states that Flavio Borges Prado’s “continual and blatant disregard” for federal safety regulations, including operating vehicles declared out-of-service based upon unsafe conditions, and repeated roadside citations for brake and other safety issues, “substantially increases the risk of death or serious injury if not discontinued immediately.”
Criminal penalties possible
Flavio Borges Prado also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for its violation of the Agency’s safety regulations. Violating an imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in a penalty of up to $25,000, operating without necessary authority may result in a fine of not less than $10,000, and operating without a USDOT number may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000. A violation of this order may also result in a criminal penalty, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year. FMCSA is also considering civil penalties for the violations discovered during the investigation and may refer this matter for criminal prosecution.