Dutch Ministry Must Compensate For Taking Stint Off The Road – Published December 2021
September 2018, a Stint, an electric boxcar used by many childcare providers to transport children, runs onto the tracks near a train station in the Dutch town of Oss. A train rams the cart. Four children between 4 and 8 do not survive the accident.
Shortly after the accident, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure) decides to take all Stints off the road. This decision comes as a total surprise to the childcare sector. After all, the vehicle is approved for public roads. Emmeline Bijlsma, director of the Childcare Sector Organization: "Let's be honest: accidents with cars and buses happen every day. Even fatal accidents. And yet those vehicles are not immediately taken off the road."
Daycare centers and the manufacturer challenge the minister's decision. In the end, it turns out that the ministry had made mistakes much earlier, in 2011. The ministry should not have allowed the Stint on the public roads at the time. The Ministry was so keen to have innovative vehicles on the streets that it was too lenient with the safety criteria.
The Stint had to be re-inspected, according to new criteria. Production was halted for a year and a half and the manufacturer almost went bankrupt. Childcare organizations suffer considerable damage because of the decision to take all Stints off the road. They have to arrange other transportation for a long time, such as vans and cabs.
District Court Ruling
In March 2021, the District Court ruled that the government could have known at the time of admission that the Stint did not comply with the rules. And so it is a matter of carelessness. Therefore, the manufacturer and the daycare centres are entitled to compensation, according to the District Court.
But the minister appeals the decision. The case then ends up at the Council of State. There, the state advocate argued that the government was right to remove the Stint from the road because "the level of safety was inadequate for passenger transport". According to the state advocate, the Stint that crashed was of a different type than the approved model.
Final Ruling by The Council of State: Dutch Ministry Must Compensate
The final ruling came on Wednesday 22 December 2021. For the manufacturer and the childcare centers, this brings an end to the legal battle: they are entitled to compensation from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for the ministry's decision to remove the vehicle from the road. This was decided by the Council of State in the appeal lodged by the Ministry.
As far as the daycare centers are concerned, the right to compensation applies to users of the "light" Stints with an electric motor of 800 watts, writes the council in the ruling. The Minister cannot be obliged to compensate users of 'heavier' Stints. These have officially never been allowed on the road, but have been driving for years because these daycare centres did not know that only the light Stint was allowed. Therefore, the council is calling on the minister to consult with the users of the heavier Stints about compensation.
For the 170 daycare centers alone, the damage amounts to 100,000 euros per institution, said Emmeline Bijlsma of Brancheorganisatie Kinderopvang on Monday in Nieuwsuur, a Dutch news program. The manufacturer is as good as bankrupt.
The Minister was instructed to issue a new decision, which included compensation for the manufacturer and the nurseries.
Dutch Ministry Must Compensate For Taking Stint Off The Road – sources: