In March 2020, a US federal judge ordered the stars of Discovery Channel’s “Diesel Brothers” to pay a hefty amount of close to $2 million, as a fine for polluting the air of the State of Utah including attorney’s fees. The popular custom truck makers found themselves sued by a group of local doctors in 2016, after giving away their customized trucks to lucky fans but without the pollution control devices.

Diesel Brothers, the TV Show

Buying used, battered, and worn-down diesel trucks and customizing them to become bigger, flashier, and cooler vehicles had been the main purpose of the show “Diesel Brothers.” It was one of the successful reality-TV shows distributed by Discovery Channel, featuring the DieselSellerz team. Aside from overhauling trucks and selling them, the team also created ridiculous grand pranks that entertained many people. They also did risky and dangerous stunts that hadn’t been done on TV, and helped them attract more attention.

The popularity of the TV show had increased immensely due to the truck giveaways. However, not all viewers were qualified for the freebie unless they purchased merchandise or an auto part that was worth $5 and up from their online store, DieselSellerz.com. The more purchases, the more chances a viewer could be rewarded with the customized truck.

The DieselSellerz team wouldn’t have ended-up on television if it wasn’t for the American TV host and vehicle aficionado, Jay Leno. Apparently, the team’s hilarious antics on social media sites – particularly on YouTube and Facebook – had reached Jay’s ears. The famous host watched one of the videos, and was instantly hooked, telling his production crew to invite them onto his show because he found them funny. The people from Discovery Channel had the same reaction when they saw the brothers on TV, so the team was invited to do a reality-TV show just like the content that they uploaded onto YouTube.

However, it took two years for the cable network to convince the DieselSellerz team, as the latter felt that the phone calls they were getting from Discovery were scams. They couldn’t believe that a legit cable channel was interested in them, and instead of taking the offer seriously, they brushed it off until convinced that it was real.

The reality-TV series premiered in January 2016 and had six seasons under its belt. Due to the pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus, along with the unfavorable result of the lawsuit filed against them, it wasn’t clear if the show would be coming back for its seventh season this 2021, although no cancellation has been announced.

Diesel Brothers, the Stars – The Defendant

The American TV show was named “Diesel Brothers” by the TV studio producers, but the main stars of the series – Dave “Diesel Dave” Kiley and Dave “Heavy D” Sparks – aren’t biological brothers, but best buddies who initially teamed-up to build a successful automotive business .

Heavy D was the fabricator and master auto builder, who since high school spent most of his time studying auto mechanics and tinkering with old vehicles. After his graduation, he worked as the manager of a vehicle rental business, which gave him an opportunity to be exposed to various types of vehicles. He then pursued a college degree at Weber State University, but only attended for one semester before dropping out. He later joined his uncle’s construction firm in which he operated heavy equipment, which led him to start his own excavation company, that handled landscaping and construction of waterfalls along with all types of rock walls. When he needed help in his company in 2008, he turned to his best friend, and Diesel Dave became his first employee. Later on, they established DieselSellerz.com and Sparks Motors.

Diesel Brothers

The two initially met at a singles event hosted by the Mormon Church of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah; they were both hoping to find lifelong partners who shared the same Mormon faith. However, instead of meeting their future wives, they ended up having a best friend and a business partner. When Heavy D invited Diesel Dave to hang out with his friends at a nearby lake, he accidentally filled Diesel Dave’s pickup truck with regular gasoline instead of diesel, and their friendship started when they took turns in siphoning the gasoline from the tank of the truck. It was also on that day that they shared their dream of launching an all-around diesel-powered auto shop, that would cater to all the needs of pick-up trucks, 4×4’s, and SUVs.

Heavy D was the key principal of the business, while Diesel Dave was the face of the brand.

When their business started to take off, they were joined by friends Keaton “The Muscle” Hoskins, and Joshua “Redbeard” Stuart. The Muscle had been tinkering with diesel trucks for quite some time before joining them, while Redbeard’s savvy skill of building and selling businesses was the main reason he was invited to join the team.

The Plaintiff – UPHE

In 2016, the Diesel Brothers received a notice of suit against their company, DieselSellerz from Reed Zars’ Law office on behalf of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, alleging past and ongoing violation of the Clean Air Act. They were a group of around 450 physicians and 3,500 regular citizens residing in Utah, including air quality specialists, biologists, technicians, and toxicologists who were dedicated to promoting the well-being of people living in their state, as well as safeguarding the environment.

The organization was formed in March 2007, and had partnered with other groups in helping to accomplish the passing of new laws that would protect the environment, such as tougher restrictions on incinerations, air-polluting systems, and regular monitoring of oil refineries. They submitted detailed scientific research to back up their claims, and for 15 years were successful in stopping business expansions and city projects that would further endanger the environment of Utah.

The Formal Complaint against the Diesel Brothers

The complaint against the Diesel Brothers was filed on 10 January 2017 – the defendants weren’t limited to the main stars of the reality-TV show, but also their team members including “Redbeard” and “The Muscle” Hoskins and four other companies, DieselSellerz.com LLC, Diesel Power Gear LLC, 4×4 Anything LLC, and Sparks Motors LLC.

It was a federal Clean Air Act citizen enforcement action for the defendants to address the violations that they had allegedly perpetrated by removing emission control systems on the diesel vehicles, as well as selling them. They also sold auto parts and systems that could easily help anyone who wanted to do the same thing to their vehicles. The complaint also specified that more than 60 days had passed since they notified the Diesel Brothers of their violation, but they’d continued with their modifications.

UPHE maintained that these illegal modifications produced diesel exhaust, which was one of the most dangerous and toxic pollutants out there. Dr. Brian Moench, the UPHE President at that time, further said that ‘This company’s removal and deactivation of vehicle pollution control equipment represents a callous disregard for the harm they are doing to the entire community.’

One of the board members of UPHE, Dr. Howie Garber, said back then that DieselSellerz.com had been turning trucks into monstrous disease-generating machines that could cause a wide range of illnesses, including lung disease, heart attacks, cancer, and even birth defects.

The Verdict, Fines, and the Appeal

In 2018, the Diesel Brothers along with their companies were served a court injunction, ordering them to stop tampering with the pollution/emission control systems of vehicles. The decision was made following the findings of an emissions inspector, Evan Nelson, who submitted a detailed report when he inspected a 2013 Ram 5500 that was up for sale in Sparks Motors, finding that it didn’t have the factory-installed emission control system. Heavy D said in his disposition that he only modified the truck with the knowledge that it was legal to do so, provided that the truck would only be used during off-road trips.

Diesel Brothers

However, the US Environmental Protection Agency explicitly prohibited anyone from modifying or tampering with emission systems on vehicles, and it didn’t matter where they would be used.

In March 2020, the Diesel Brothers failed to win the lawsuit against them. It took the Federal Court Chief Judge Robert J. Shelby almost four years to finally close the case, stating that the Diesel Brothers specifically Heavy D, Redbeard, and The Muscle along with their companies had willfully violated the Act over 400 times. The judge also ordered them to pay a fine of over $760,000 to the US government, $90,000 to Davis County, and the plaintiffs’ legal representation fees of about $1.2 million. He also noted that one of the submitted videos of the Diesel Brothers had shown that their modified trucks had released huge amounts of black smoke into the air, and that their companies had benefited monetarily from these modifications.

Also that the Diesel Brothers were permanently banned from tampering with pollution control systems, and that none of the debt could be discharged from bankruptcy.

The Diesel Brothers – particularly Heavy D and Redbeard – appealed the verdict, while The Muscle settled his case directly with the UPHE. The hearing was made through a zoom meeting, to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations.

Interesting Facts and Rumors about the Diesel Brothers

With the success of the TV series and the notoriety that they gained especially after they were sued, there were other allegations about them floating in social media, including online forums. Here are some of the most noteworthy facts and rumors about the show and its team:

The truck giveaway was real

Giving away a customized truck was part of their promotion, and the Diesel Brothers took this seriously. They did give trucks away free, but only to eligible candidates.

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Initially, people were skeptical about the whole thing, however, when they realized that they weren’t giving away brand new trucks, but restored ones from junkyards, no one questioned it anymore. The TV show operated within a budget, and they would never overspend if they wouldn’t be able to recuperate their expenses. However, the real question was how the Diesel Brothers chose the final list of qualified viewers for the freebie. They said it was done randomly, but how random was random?

The two Daves did Missionary Work for their Church

Viewers couldn’t believe that the bearded friends went overseas for two years for their missionary work of propagating their Mormon faith. They didn’t look like the regular Mormon missionaries, but at one point in their lives, they did their part as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.

Heavy D was assigned to evangelize in the jungles of Brazil and Bolivia, while Diesel Dave was said to have traveled to Portugal to spread the teachings of their church. For these missions, they both learned to speak Spanish and Portuguese.

Another lawsuit with Diesel, the Italian fashion clothing brand

Sometime in 2017, the Diesel brothers found themselves in another legal battle, as they were sued by the popular Italian fashion clothing brand, Diesel. Instead of settling it out of court, the initial complaint notice later became a full-blown trademark case. The problem started when the Diesel Brothers started offering clothing brands and other merchandise using the Diesel trademark of their company, Diesel Power Gear (DPG). The Italian fashion brand’s legal representative said that people would likely confuse the DPG goods with their brand. They also said that Diesel Brothers was practicing an unfair competition strategy with malicious intent, by using identical background colors and fonts as their trademark logo.

The luxury brand said it was quite obvious that the DPG was banking on the popularity of the Italian brand to attract more consumers. They believed that the Diesel Brothers violated trademark infringement and dilution laws. The Diesel Brothers decided not to respond to the complaint, so the Italian brand won the case, and the DPG’s trademark application was never registered.

Thousands of messages sent to them weekly for the free truck

The American reality-TV series received thousands of messages each week, as the senders wanted to increase their odds of qualifying for a free customized truck. While it was just a small percentage of the millions of viewers, it was tangible proof that many people had been watching the show, and believed the free give away trucks promotion. Most of the letters they received had all sorts of sob stories, which no one knew for sure were real or not.

Diesel Brothers

Each truck was custom-made

In their auto-shop, there was no such thing as a production line. Each truck had its own specific design, and everything was custom-built. This was the reason they became popular, not only in the US but also globally. Each of the vehicles that they restored was special, as they created each part to produce a unique monster truck.

They co-authored and published a book

Due to their success in building a business from scratch, they inspired many people, and were encouraged to publish a book. In 2017, their first book entitled “The Diesel Brothers: A Truckin’ Awesome Guide to Trucks and Life” was released, which shared fascinating stories about their humble beginnings, and their journey to becoming a pair of the most-watched reality TV stars on Discovery Channel. They also gave business-related tips in managing a company, and how to deal with obstacles along the way.

Without Redbeard, the company would go bankrupt

While the main boss was Heavy D, all business-related items were being handled by Redbeard. He was the reason the business side of the company became even more successful – Heavy D and Diesel Dave relied heavily on Redbeard’s sane decisions to keep the business afloat. He reminded the team when enough was enough financially, and when they were going overboard.

YouTube Vlogging Continued

While Discovery Channel hasn’t announced if the reality-TV series has been canceled, fans need not be worried, since their vlogging continues. Each week, a couple of videos were uploaded to their official YouTube channel called HeavyDSparks, which has more than 38.5 million views and counting. They also offered two other official YouTube channels, such as their podcast channel called HeavyChecklist, and Diesel Power Gear channel, which featured all the winners of the truck sweepstakes, and a close-up look at the trucks that have been given away.

Author

Robbie is currently a reporter for TheBiography based in Santa Monica, CA. Prior to joining TheBiography in December 2020, he was an entertainment reporter in People.

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