Elkhart-based Forest River, one of Indiana's largest RV manufacturers, is facing up to $35 million in penalties for violating federal safety laws.

An investigation started by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last September found that Forest River failed to report safety defects and other information required by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

Forest River has "acknowledged it failed to report early warning data and failed to launch two safety recalls in a timely fashion," according to a statement released by the NHTSA today.

Forest River is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway. With an estimated $1.6 billion in sales, the company is one of Elkhart County's largest employers.

As part of a consent order signed by Peter Liegl, Forest River's president and CEO, the company could pay up to $35 million in civil penalties. The company must pay a $5 million penalty, with the possibility of another $30 million.

The manufacturer must retain an independent monitor to conduct periodic audits of safety practices. If Forest River fails to resolve any issues discovered in audits, the remaining penalties would come due — $3 million for a first violation, $7 million for a second, and $20 million for a third. Forest River must also hire a consultant to help meet requirements of the consent order.

The terms of the order last for three years, but the NHTSA can extend the order by one year if the independent monitor recommends it.

Click here to read more about the cause behind the fines and what's been recalled and why.

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