Southwest Chapter

Chapter Chair
Emily Garza, CAFM
Vehicle Fleet Manager
9807 Katy Freeway, Ste. 100 Houston, TX 77024
Area Covered: The southern half of Texas and the southern half of Louisiana.

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Southwest Chapter Takes On Vehicle Technology And Legal Risks, Tours Houston Auto Show

The Southwest Chapter held its quarterly meeting on Thursday January 23 at the Houston Auto Show, Reliant Center, Houston, TX. The meeting was sponsored by AC Delco.

A tremendous turnout of over 65 NAFA Members and Affiliates came out to learn from Houston-based attorney John E. Cruickshank, from the law firm Alaniz and Schraeder, L.L.P. He spoke on the topic of “The Emergence of Vehicle Technology and Legal Risks.” John explained in easy to understand terms the current state of the judicial system and how plaintiff’s attorneys can exploit weaknesses in fleet policies and practices.

John’s area of practice focuses exclusively on defending fleets in, and from, litigation by helping fleet managers develop policies and practices that will mitigate their legal risks. Through his work Cruickshank has seen how companies and organizations are dragged into court cases for even the most tangential reasons. “The only person who cares about justice is the person who feels they didn’t get any,” he said.

“There are plenty of lawyers ready to sue,” he said, and asserted that even if a company was only loosely connected with a case (as much as just existing near an accident site), “…they will be named in the suit 100 percent of the time.

“And even if the lawsuit is frivolous, if the lawyer is sharp enough, they will get money from them,” said Cruickshank, admitting that a company will almost always find a small settlement more favorable than a prolonged, expensive court case, even if the company feels they were in the right. This is an important subject for every fleet manager and one that is only going to become more critical as vehicle technology becomes more advanced.

The Chapter also held its annual elections and heard from a Texas based non-profit charitable organization, Cenikor Foundation. After lunch Chapter Members toured the Auto Show floor to view all the great new models up close.

Special thanks to Southwest Chapter Chair Scott Darling for material in this article.

September chapter meeting minutes: click here

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