On January 1, 2012, it will become a crime in California for an auto repair shop to “fake” repair of an airbag. The law, called SB 869 and Sponsored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), grew out of a problem exposed by At Home Care Solution Founder Lauren Reynolds back in 2008.
As a consumer advocate in 2008, Lauren confronted auto repair shop owner Arnold Parra about air bags he had supposedly repaired in a used truck. Lauren asked to speak to him about the airbags, but instead, Parra took off running.
He had good reason to try to get away.
“He has blood on his hands,” said attorney Julie Haus.
She represented the Ellsworth family, whose 18 year old son, Bobby, died in a car crash involving that very truck. Bobby was a passenger in the truck being driven by his friend, Waylon Blocker. Waylon fell asleep and crashed.
The airbags should’ve deployed, but they were missing. All that was in the steering wheel was paper.
Waylon’s family had purchased the truck from Arnold Parra. Parra paid $3000 for it at an auction of totalled vehicles. He made some repairs and sold it to Waylon’s parents for $8000. But Parra didn’t repair the air bags. He tossed some paper in the steering wheel and then glued it shut. (He always maintained he only did some bumper repair on the truck and never touched the air bags).
The Ellsworth family won a $15 million verdict against Parra, but they never were paid a dime and Parra was not convicted of any crime because there were no airbag replacement laws about faking airbag repairs.
Lauren presented her San Diego airbag repair investigation to Senator Leland Yee, who cited her investigation as one of 3 cases in the U.S. where fatal crashes involved fake air bag repairs. As a result, Senator Lee sponsored a bill to make faking the repairs a crime. Lauren welcomes the news that as of January 1st that bill becomes law. It means that from that point forward, someone who behaves like Arnold Parra will be doing something not just unethical, but illegal.