Second Circuit Judge Susan Carney has denied Safelite’s request for an emergency stay to halt enforcement of Connecticut’s anti-steering law pending appeal. The law, PA 13-67, went into effect January 1.
The judge also ordered that Safelite’s motions for an injunction and for an expedited appeal be referred to a three-judge motions’ panel.
After a lower court had denied Safelite’s motion for a preliminary injunction, the company had appealed the decision to the Second Circuit Court.
“The appellants’ request for an administrative stay pending the court’s determination of the motion for injunction pending appeal is denied,” according to court papers.
Safelite had claimed the law is unconstitutional because it restricts the company’s right to free speech. Company attorneys had claimed Safelite was the only entity covered by the law. Connecticut’s attorneys, meanwhile, claimed the law is intended “to protect consumer choice.”
“Absent this court’s immediate intervention, on January 1, 2014, a new, blatantly protectionist Connecticut law will take effect and force appellants Safelite Group and Safelite Solutions (the company’s third-party automotive glass claims administrative arm) to make a Hobson’s choice: Either discontinue wholly truthful speech advising customers about Safelite-owned vehicle glass repair services, or when making such representations, also provide a referral to another competing local glass repair shop,” Safelite’s attorneys alleged in court documents. “The First Amendment projects against such attempts to commandeer commercial speech.”
Attorneys representing Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen and Thomas Leonardi, state insurance commissioner, quickly filed a response in the Second Circuit Court.
“It is inappropriate for Safelite to seek an injunction on just five days notice over the Christmas holidays from a court that is completely unfamiliar with the case at bar and particularly when that is the only relief requested in the case,” attorneys argued.
“[T]he state opposes Safelite’s effort to so severely truncate the briefing schedule in this appeal,” according to court papers. “Safelite has not demonstrated—beyond a bald assertion of irreparable harm—that the extraordinary relief of a significantly shortened briefly schedule is necessary to prevent substantial injury or preserve its ability to obtain appellate review.”
The Connecticut Assistant Attorney General office issued a statement in response to the decision.
“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. As of January 1, 2014, Public Act 13-67 is now in effect, and we will continue to vigorously defend the law as this case moves forward,” according to the statement.
Safelite officials declined to comment on the decision. Safelite is expected to appeal further.
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Public records of the court documents are available.
To view a copy of the Second Circuit Court’s decision, click here.
To view Safelite’s appeal, click here.
To view Connecticut’s response, click here.