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Nikola's founder wants a look at vehicles U.S. says he lied about

Nikola Corp. former CEO Trevor Milton claims federal prosecutors refused access to company's vehicles and equipment he says are crucial to his defense against fraud charges. Milton, scheduled to go on trial in April, asked a judge on Friday to allow him to inspect and photograph certain prototypes and other Nikola property and places. He said the government and the company have refused his repeated requests. Access to the evidence is necessary to refute claims that Milton misled investors, he said. Milton is accused of lying about the success of his debut truck, the Nikola One, and claiming the company had engineered and built an electric-and-hydrogen-powered truck called the Badger. He also allegedly claimed Nikola was producing hydrogen at reduced cost, and that it had developed batteries and other components itself. "Inspecting these items, and demonstrating the functionality of the technology, go to the crux of his defense," Milton's lawyers said in the court filing. Milton wants his lawyers and experts to inspect prototypes for the Badger, the Nikola One, and the UTV, as well as a hydrogen demonstration station and a media studio, all located at a company's Phoenix facility. Milton, who stepped down from the company in 2020, was charged in July with misleading investors about the EV maker's prospects in order to boost its stock price. He has pleaded not guilty. Last month, Milton asked for the case to be thrown out, saying he wasn't given fair notice that the alleged statements he made could be considered criminal and that prosecutors haven't shown how his comments influenced purchases or sales of Nikola stock, among other arguments. The following week, the company agreed to pay a $125 million civil penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission without admitting or denying wrongdoing. The case is U.S. v. Trevor Milton, 21-cr-00478, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
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New OSHA regs? Supreme Court ruling against vax mandate could trigger new rules

WASHINGTON — Large private companies, for now, will be able to set their own work force vaccination and testing requirements voluntarily, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last week that blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a federal mandate.The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued an emergency temporary standard in November that would have required companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or require them to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis. The mandate would have affected more than 84 million U.S. workers.But the court may have left open the possibility for OSHA to issue a narrower set of regulations targeted at certain work environments, including manufacturing."Where the virus poses a special danger because of the particular features of an employee's job or workplace, targeted regulations are plainly permissible," according to the court's opinion. "So too could OSHA regulate risks associated with working in particularly crowded or cramped environments."Whether OSHA accepts that invitation "remains an open question," James Hermon, a member in Dykema's labor and employment practice group, told Automotive News."At the very least, manufacturers can expect to be subject to citations for [OSHA] General Duty Clause violations where there are COVID outbreaks tied to workplace exposures," he said. "It is also possible that states and localities will issue their own health and safety requirements, creating a confusing patchwork of regulation that companies with facilities in multiple locations will have to navigate."Despite the court's ruling, auto companies should still establish "strict on-site hygiene protocols" to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Rahim Rajwani, a corporate risk management specialist who is CEO of Triumph Advisors. Several automakers told Automotive News last week that they were encouraging eligible employees to get vaccinated. No major automakers thus far have required vaccinations for all employees.
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