A group of Florida collision repair shops have filed a response in the U.S. District Court of Florida to dozens of insurers’ motions to dismiss their complaint, alleging, “[T]he only way such specific identifiable instances of wrongful and successful ‘steering’ are brought to the direct attention of the respective plaintiffs is if, by chance, the successfully ‘steered’ customer happens to come back to their shop for whatever reason and then happens to relay information of the wrongful conduct to them (the shop) for whatever reason.”
The complaint by a group of Florida collision repair shops alleges that dozens of insurers use their direct repair programs to illegally control and depress rates. The complaint alleges that if the shops don’t comply, customers are steered away.
The collision repair shops also allege the insurers require the use of aftermarket parts, such as aftermarket replacement windshields.
“Even aftermarket windshield glass poses a safety risk to vehicle occupants,” the attorneys for the collision repair shops allege.
The insurers have asked the court to dismiss the amended complaint, alleging, “This is already the third iteration of the complaint in less than a year and this court has already provided clear instructions to the plaintiffs as to how to cure their pleading deficiencies. They have ignored or cannot comply with this court’s direction.”
In their response, the attorneys for the group of Florida collision repair companies write, “Plaintiffs, via the amended complaint, have been able to sufficiently plead and provide examples of identifiable customers and understandings under Florida law. Contrary to the arguments of certain of the defendants, though, given that such evidence allowing for specific identification have been obtained only by chance thus far, it is more than highly probable that many further specific identifiable instances of defendants’ wrongful conduct will be uncovered through the only other mechanism left for plaintiff shops to make such specific discovery: discovery itself in this case.
“For example, in the majority of the instances of wrongful ‘steering,’ only representatives of the defendants currently possess the knowledge, documentation, and ultimate testimony substantiating the specific and identifiable instances of when, where, and who they attempted to wrongfully ‘steer,’ who they successfully and wrongfully ‘steered,’ from which auto body repair shops they wrongfully ‘steered’ each particular customer/insured, and to which auto body repair shop each such customer/insured was wrongfully ‘steered,’” attorneys for the repair shops write in court documents.
“[T]he defendants’ arguments are without merit and the motions to dismiss should be denied,” according to attorneys for the repair shops.
The U.S. District Court judge for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando division, has not yet issued a decision at press time.
To read the collision repair shops full response to insurers’ motions to dismiss, click here.