Marshals served subpoenas from Safelite on many automotive glass company owners in Connecticut this week for information related to its legal effort to halt enforcement of PA 13-67 (An Act Concerning Automotive Glass Work), according to the Connecticut Attorney General’s office and glassBYTEs.com™ reader reports.
“We are aware of the subpoena; however, as litigation in this matter is pending, we would decline any further comment at this time,” says Jaclyn Falkowski, director of communications for the Connecticut Attorney General.
Safelite is seeking four items from automotive glass companies, according to a Connecticut glassBYTEs.com™ reader who prefers to remain unnamed at this time.
“We believe just about everybody (all automotive glass shops) in Connecticut were served,” he says. “They cast a net over the whole state of Connecticut. They are asking for four things: All documents concerning efforts to enact the law [PA 13-67]; all documents concerning communications with policyholders; any contractual agreements between insurance and third-party administrator networks and glass shops; and how much money a shop spent on advertising over the course of three years.”
The lobbyist who helped push the bill through state congress and into law says he can’t quite understand Safelite’s strategy with the subpoenas.
“Having marshals go to all of the glass companies doors to serve them?” according to Jim Amann, managing partner of International Government Strategies and former Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives. “I don’t think they are helping their case. I believe our law is absolutely, 100-percent legal and one that will uphold scrutiny. A part of me just feels this is intimidation. They should get it by now, Connecticut glass shop owners aren’t going away. They will continue to fight.”
“We cannot comment on the specifics given the pending litigation,” says Melina Metzger, Safelite’s public relations manager.
Safelite’s attorneys take particular issue with a small portion of the act—PA-13-67(c)(2).
“It prohibits an insurance claims administrator (TPA) from informing policyholders about an affiliated glass repair business unless the administrator simultaneously refers policyholders to a local competitor’s glass repair business,” Safelite attorneys explain.
Safelite has sued state Attorney General George Jepsen and Thomas Leonardi, state insurance commissioner, and asked for an injunction to halt enforcement. After the District Court judge decided against an immediate injunction to halt enforcement, Safelite appealed this decision to the Appellate Court. A hearing was held at the Appellate level in late May and a decision has not yet been handed down.
“When PA 13-67(c)(2) is subject to the appropriate test—that announced in Central Hudson—it becomes clear that Safelite’s First Amendment challenge is likely to succeed and that a preliminary injunction should issue,” Safelite’s attorneys have argued.
On the other side of the courtroom, Connecticut’s attorney claims, “Safelite Solutions has been extraordinarily effective at steering consumers to Safelite AutoGlass.”
“[C]onnecticut has a statutory policy of protecting consumer choice in automotive insurance repair work. The Connecticut legislature enacted Public Act 13-67(c) (2) because it determined that existing statutes did not adequately prevent insurance claims administrators from undermining consumer choice by steering consumers to affiliated auto glass repair shops,” they add.