Liability for Exhaust Immissions from Corporate Cars
"Globes" Israel's Business Newspaper
Tzvi Levinson and Gil Dror, Adv.
Israeli regulations dealing with air pollution from motor vehicles state that “a person” may not drive motor vehicles with faulty exhaust systems or cause unreasonable air pollution from motor vehicles. In the case of corporate vehicles used by employees, who is liable for violations of these regulations? In particular, what is the potential liability of the corporation and its officers? The article opines that it is reasonable to assume that drivers should be liable for those exhaust immissions they can see. However, to the extent corporations are servicing their own corporate vehicles, the corporations and not the drivers bear responsibility for all other immissions, as well as a responsibility to check exhaust immissions from vehicles during the periodic servicing suggested by the motor vehicle manufacturer. The corporate vehicle service officers would be appropriately responsible for ensuring that vehicles are properly serviced by their mechanics. Moreover, under Article 11(C) of the Israeli Law Regarding the Avoidance of Nuisance of 1961 (hereinafter “Nuisance Law”), corporate officers are required to inspect and take all reasonable measures to avoid causing unreasonable air pollution by the corporation or its employees; this is a further source of personal liability for corporate officers. Finally, the business licenses of Israeli corporations stipulate that violations of the Nuisance Law constitute grounds for losing a business license. To avoid liability in a proactive manner, the following actions should be taken: (I) Drivers should keep service records signed by corporate mechanics; (2) Corporate mechanics should keep written records of the work they performed on individual corporate motor vehicles; (3) Corporate officers should ensure that all vehicles are properly serviced as suggested by the manufacturer and should perform random quality checks of their own vehicle servicing; and finally, (4) Corporate officers should demonstrate the existence of procedures to minimize air pollution in the corporation and should require a yearly report on the condition of each of the corporate vehicles.