Several automotive glass repair and replacement company owners are calling the judge’s decision to deny Safelite’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the Connecticut anti-steering case a “victory.” Safelite had asked the Connecticut U.S. District Court to put enforcement of PA 13-67 on hold while it challenges the new anti-steering law in the courts.
Safelite claims the law, set to go into effect January 1, is unconstitutional because it restricts the company’s right to free speech. Company attorneys claim Safelite is the only entity covered by the law. Connecticut’s attorneys, meanwhile, claim the law is intended “to protect consumer choice.”
“This decision is a victory for the automotive glass industry and the consumers of Connecticut,” says Bob Beranek, owner of Automotive Glass Consultants in Sun Prairie, Wis. “When a glass company both installs the glass and administers the insurance claim there is an inherent risk a conflict of interest. This ruling in Connecticut gives the consumer the right to make their own decisions.”
“Do they [Safelite] have any idea as to the blow back the public will give them nationally over this action [to sue]? Do they have any idea as to how we will explain this to our clients? And they have spent how much for this action? … My question is where would Safelite be without deep pockets?” says Kerry Soat, owner of Fas-Break in Chandler, Ariz.
“Boy, I bet the tongues are wagging over this news. Connecticut legislating Safelite’s TPA [third-party administrator] and provider model right into the trash heap of rigged commerce,” says Jay Sampson of Total Glass Solutions in Broomfield, Colo. “Perhaps this Connecticut bill will become the new draft legislation that is marched up to state houses all over the country soon.”
Safelite’s attorneys are appealing the judge’s decision to the Second Circuit Court.
“We are disappointed that Judge Arterton denied our motion for preliminary injunction, which would have delayed the effective date of Public Act 13-67: An Act Concerning Auto Glass Repair,” writes Safelite’s senior corporate counsel Brian DiMasi in a statement. “We continue to feel very strongly that Public Act 13-67 violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and we will be filing an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on this very important constitutional commercial free speech issue.”
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Assistant Attorney General (AAG) office plans to continue defending the statute.
“We are pleased with the District Court’s thorough decision. The state has a long-standing interest in protecting consumer choice in automobile glass repairs covered by insurance. We will continue to vigorously defend the statute,” the state AAG’s office wrote in a statement.
The Second Circuit Court has not issued a decision on the appeal at press time.
Public court records are available.
To view a copy of the judge’s decision, click here.
To view a copy of Safelite’s complaint, click here.
To view a copy of Safelite’s request for an injunction, click here.