WOODS CROSS — The Davis County-based Diesel Brothers are looking to dismiss a clean air lawsuit that is tarnishing their image.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment filed the citizen suit earlier this year. It accuses the reality show frontmen of violating both the federal Clean Air Act and the Utah State Implementation Plan for air quality.
The Diesel Brothers rose to fame by giving away modified, smoke-blowing trucks in a sweepstakes contest and by posting various videos of their truck antics on YouTube. They operate a marketplace for truck parts, have a mechanic shop in Woods Cross and debuted on the Discovery Channel with their “Diesel Brothers” reality show in January 2016.
They wrapped up the second season of their show in April.
“As is evident from the show, the Diesel Brothers are strong proponents of outdoor recreation,” said Cole S. Cannon, an attorney representing the group. “The Diesel Brothers hope for a quick resolution to this matter in a way that can both educate the public and encourage best environmental practices for fellow truck enthusiasts.”
On June 27, the U.S. District Court will hold a hearing on a motion to dismiss the case. Cannon said he’s “highly confident” the scope of Utah Physician’s lawsuit will be “narrowed.”
The Diesel Brothers’ representatives declined further comment.
The lawsuit accuses the group of selling illegally modified vehicles and emissions control defeat devices online. It also claims they created an online marketplace to buy and sell equipment that creates more pollution.
As evidence, the suit sites a long list of the group’s YouTube and social media posts. Many have since been removed, but one showed a possibly illegally modified truck wrapped with the group’s business logos “coal rolling” a Prius. Others showed trucks the Diesel Brothers worked on or gave away blowing illegal levels of smoke.
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The lawsuit names the four “Diesel Brothers” — David “Heavy D” Sparks, David “Diesel Dave” Kiley, Joshua “Redbeard” Stuart and Keaton “The Muscle” Hoskins. It also names their four companies, DIESELSellerz.com, Diesel Power Gear, 4x4 Anything and Sparks Motors. All four outfits are limited liability companies.
That’s where things get murky.
In a motion filed last February, the Diesel Brother’s attorneys claim the allegations refer to activities the men did under employment of their companies, meaning they can’t personally be held liable.
Reed Zars, an attorney representing Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said that argument carries no weight.
“Under the Clean Air Act, both individuals and companies are liable for their actions,” he said. “Every person ... has his or her own responsibility to obey the law. They cannot defend themselves by saying ‘someone else told me to do this.’”
The Diesel Brothers’ motion also claims the suit should be dismissed since the group’s alleged illegal actions first began more than five years prior to the date Utah Physicians made its first complaint. That means they’re past the statute of limitations, according to the claim.
Utah Physicians’ complaint states that starting in August 2011, the Diesel Brothers began tampering with emissions controls on diesel vehicles. They also drove those modified trucks around Utah’s non-attainment areas for air quality standards — counties with emissions testing requirements.
The suit was filed on Jan. 10 of this year.
While the statute of limitations under the Clean Air Act is five years with a few weeks’ worth of wiggle room, Zars said there’s still grounds for legal action since the Diesel Brothers’ actions have been ongoing in the years since.
“It’s not like, ‘Well, we started this allegedly illegal activity more than five years ago, you didn’t catch us then, so everything we’re doing now is somehow immunized,’” Zars said. “That is not the law.”
From there, the Diesel Brothers motion for dismissal goes into the various functions of the group’s various companies.
Sparks Motors is the group’s repair shop and dealership at 1955 S. 1800 West in Woods Cross, which the lawsuit calls the “DIESELSellerz Complex.”
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DIESELSellerz, the dismissal motion says, produces “entertaining” videos for the internet and is an online marketplace where various third parties sell each other diesel parts. Because it doesn’t own, operate or modify vehicles, it falls outside of the lawsuit claims.
Diesel Power Gear, the motion claims, is an apparel company that also doesn’t own, operate or modify vehicles. While the company does occasionally give away trucks that may or may not have been modified, the motion claims they’re not technically in violation of the law since they’re part of a “no purchase necessary” sweepstakes, not a sale.
Meanwhile, the claim says that 4x4 Anything stopped selling delete kits and aftermarket exhaust systems after it received a pre-lawsuit notice from Utah Physicians in July 2016.
Utah Physicians filed a rebuttal in March.
DIESELSellerz, it claimed, is still an active participant in emissions tampering because its logo is often emblazoned on the illegally modified trucks shown on YouTube videos.
Diesel Power Gear, too, remains an active participant in emissions tampering through giveaways and promotions of those allegedly illegal trucks.
They also argue that while 4x4 Anything may have stopped selling illegal emissions defeat products, the Clean Air Act allows for citizen suits for historical violations.
“In addition, we’re interested in all of the parts they have sold in the past that were illegal,” Zars said.
Utah Physicians wants to secure a civil penalty for any past and current clean air violations, which would be paid to the U.S. Department of Treasury.
They’d also like to see a recall of any parts sold to illegally modify vehicles in Utah and beyond.
“Ultimately, what I’m hoping for is to find all these altered vehicles and bring them into compliance,” Zars said.
The U.S. District Court will hold the dismissal hearing from 1:30-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27.