Truck Driving Schools, Fraud, and Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Forged CDL Licenses and Outright Fraud Hurt Drivers, Public
You can find them everywhere: in newspapers, on late night television, even on the sides of 18-wheelers driving down the highway. If you haven’t seen, or heard, one of the ads that promise “big money” or a “guaranteed job” if you attend the So-and-So Truck Driving School, you haven’t been paying very much attention to anything!
Truck driving schools made something of a comeback during the recession of 2007 – 2012 after falling on hard times during the economic boom times that ran from the mid-1980s to late 1990s. It also didn’t help the trucking school industry that scores of schools either went out of business when federally-insured student loans began to dry up or when their owners went out of business courtesy of wire fraud convictions related to those same student loans.
The fact that many of the graduates of these schools would have had trouble driving a truck from the school to the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles office, as noted below, didn’t help:
April 7, 2008: Mustafa Redzic, owner of Bonsa Truck Driving School in St. Louis, was of multiple charges involving a bribery/fraud scheme to provide easy tests to “hundreds” of students applying for commercial drivers licenses.
September 25, 2013: Three State DMV security guards and eight associates were arrested after they were accused of accepting between $2,000 and $2,500 per head for helping “hundreds” of applicants pass the CDL written exam by providing them with the answers either beforehand or during the exam itself.
May 13, 2015: Wai Phillip Ng and Pui Kuen Ng, owner-operators of a commercial driving school, N&Y Professional Service Line in Brooklyn, NY, were sentenced to a forfeiture of cash and assets totaling more than $175,000 after pleading guilty to helping as many as 500 people fraudulently pass the NY State CDL written examination.
July 13, 2015: Four people were indicted for fraud in connection with about 400 Florida CDLs that were issued to test-takers that spoke only Russian. August 11, 2015: California Department of Motor Vehicles Representative Emma Klem and trucking school owner Kulwinder Dosanjh Singh entered guilty pleas to charges of identity fraud and bribery. Between June 2011 to March 2015 an estimated 100 people paid bribes to Singh, and Singh then bribed Klem and two other DMV employees, and were issued California CDLs without having passed written and driving tests.
April 21, 2016: Vitalii Vitiuk entered a guilty plea to charges that he and Volodymyr Kurylo had provided false residency documents to CDL students of VN Trucking so that they could obtain a Pennsylvania non-commercial driver’s license before they acquired a Pennsylvania CDL.
If you were in an accident that was caused by a recent graduate of a truck driving school or a driver who got his or her CDL medical card and/or license by paying off the right persons, what are your options?
First of all, the company that employed the driver is liable for any damages that you may have suffered because 1) the driver was acting as an agent of the employer by driving a company vehicle and accepting loads on behalf of the company, 2) they should have performed a background check on the driver prior to hiring, 3) they should have checked the truthfulness of the driver’s answers on the employment application, and 4) the company should have given the prospective driver a driving test using the type of vehicle that he or she would be driving. Failure to perform any of actions 2 – 4 by the driver’s employer makes the employer negligent, in addition to be liable for the actions of its employee.
Secondly, and most importantly, you will need to meet with a trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident because the company that owned the truck is only required to keep most of the documentation that an attorney will need to successfully bring a lawsuit for a relatively short period of time. In most cases the company can legally destroy most such documentation, whether or not it is needed in a lawsuit, after six months. If a lawyer has requested a copy of those documents, the company risks getting into some serious trouble with a court and its insurance company if anything is “lost” or otherwise unavailable.
Finally, a trucking company and its insurance carrier will probably attempt to get you to agree to an insurance claim settlement that is favorable to everyone except you. By retaining the services of a lawyer with experience in trucking industry lawsuits you will protect your right to fair compensation for your injuries.