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Attorney Michael Leizerman on CNBC: Truck companies wiping safety records clean after crashes

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 19th, 2014

A “chameleon carrier,” a truck company that closes and opens up under a new name after it breaks safety laws, is what killed Leizerman’s client

Truck attorney Mike Leizerman on CNBC

CNBC is airing a compelling series about truck safety.  The series will hopefully  resonate with the public on what’s often really occurring behind the wheels of commercial trucks. And Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable co-founder Mike Leizerman has been  a key expert source for CNBC on the series.

Michael shared his story about a professional truck driver and father of four he represented named Kelly Linhard. Kelly was stopped on the side of the road to do a routine truck inspection in September 2008. Moments later, he was struck and killed another trucker, Daniel Clarey, who veered out of his lane.

In a deposition, Clarey admitted to being under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the terrible crash and to a previous criminal record for methamphetamine and marijuana. Clarey worked for a “chameleon carrier” trucking company. That is, a truck company that re-registers with the U.S. Department of Transportation under a new name to avoid liability or problems with their safety ratings after it has broken laws, caused wrecks, hurt and even killed people.

You can watch the show here:

The driver who hit Kelly was behind the wheel because the truck company who hired him was playing a game – changing its name but nothing else. Clarey’s employer, Forrest Rangeloff, said he opened a new trucking company because he could not get a satisfactory safety rating, which is something the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gives to companies to show they’re in compliance with regulations. And Rangeloff was able to open two more commercial transportation companies after that!

According to the Government Accountability Office, what Rangeloff was doing with his trucking companies are not an isolated incident. The office found 1,136 new applicants in just 2010 that it suspected were chameleon carriers, according to their most recent report on the issue.

This is a critically important safety issue because there are precisely the companies and drivers who are causing a much higher percentage of the preventable truck accidents out there today.  These are exactly the companies that are killing and injuring the most people.

We hope stories like this create awareness to help us and the affiliated Roundtable attorney members to accomplish our goal of making our roads safer for our families.

Meanwhile, take a look at our pledge to donate a portion of every settlement or verdict to truck safety.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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