“The omissions and errors in the state’s response to Safelite’s motion for a preliminary injunction are glaring and dispositive,” Safelite’s attorneys claim in court documents filed Friday in the U.S. District Court of Connecticut. The company’s attorneys filed the memorandum disputing Connecticut officials’ opposition to a preliminary injunction in the anti-steering case.
“The state starts by incorrectly labeling Public Act 13-67 ‘presumptively constitutional,’ even though the state bears the burden of establishing its constitutionality. And the state does not even come close to demonstrating that the law satisfied the U.S. Supreme Court’s Central Hudson test for regulating commercial speech,” Safelite’s attorneys claim.
“… The state cites no evidence establishing that an interest in ‘consumer’ choice motivated the adoption of PA 13-67,” Safelite’s attorneys go on to claim. “Instead, the state argues that such a goal either was ‘implicit in Connecticut’s enactment of PA 13-67’ or can be inferred from various proposed bills that the legislature considered but did not adopt. But the uncontroverted evidence in Safelite’s opening brief demonstrated that, throughout the legislative hearings related to PA 13-67, legislators repeatedly explained that the purpose of the act was to advantage local businesses in competition with larger interstate businesses—specifically Safelite.”
Safelite’s attorneys claim the defendants have not shown evidence that there was any harm to customer choice that would be helped by PA 13-67.
“… So PA 13-67 did not address any harm to consumers from alleged ‘steering’ or from understanding their legal rights,” Safelite’s attorneys claim. “Rather the only ‘harm’ the state identifies as being addressed by PA 13-67 is that customers are choosing Safelite shops too often. This is simply not a ‘harm’ that the state is entitled to address by restricting protected commercial speech.”
Safelite’s attorneys also claim the public act only addresses third-party administrators who own an affiliated auto glass service. They question why other third-party administrators are left out even though they “may have a financial incentive to refer business to particular shops.”
“… For the foregoing reasons, Safelite is likely to prevail on its claim that PA 13-67 violates its rights under the First Amendment. … Accordingly, this court should issue a preliminary injunction preventing the defendants from enforcing PA 13-67 pending the resolution of this action,” Safelite’s attorneys claim.
Oral arguments are next on the schedule for this case. They will be held December 2, 2013 at 3 p.m. in Courtroom Two of the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.
PA 13-67, which the governor approved in early June, “requires initial communications between a glass claims representative or a third-party claims administrator of an insurance company doing business in Connecticut and the company’s insured about automotive glass works or products to inform the insured about his or her right to choose where to have the work done.”