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Center for Auto Safety & Public Citizen v. NHTSA

This lawsuit challenged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) policy of allowing vehicle manufacturers to limit certain recalls of defective vehicles to select states. The complaint charged that regional recalls violate the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, because the Act requires that all owners of defective motor vehicles receive notice and a free remedy; that NHTSA’s policy of permitting regional recalls has been applied arbitrarily; and that even if regional recalls were legal, NHTSA illegally implemented the policy by failing to provide notice and solicit public comment before allowing the regional recalls.

In September 2004, the district court ruled against the Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed.