Florida Collision Repair Shops Argue Against Sanctions

Attorneys representing a group of Florida collision repair shops say an insurer’s motion for sanctions “is effectively a regurgitation of arguments it has previously made in its previous motions to dismiss.” The Florida collision repair shops allege 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.

“Defendant Old Republic Insurance Co. hereby moves for entry of sanctions, including an award of attorneys’ fees and expenses, against plaintiffs … for asserting frivolous claims unsupported by existing law and lacking in evidentiary support and for engaging in vexatious litigation for the improper purpose of harassing Old Republic and needlessly increasing the cost of litigation,” according to attorneys for the insurer.

“The court did not find any of the causes of action frivolous,” attorneys for the collision repair shops argue in response.

“[T]he crux of defendant’s argument actually appears to be predicated upon a general denial of the allegations of the complaints,” according to court documents. “In other words, defendant appears to be arguing that because it says it did not do anything wrong, then plaintiffs were required to dismiss it from the action and, by refusing to do so, plaintiffs must be sanctioned.”

The insurers have asked the court to dismiss the amended complaint, alleging, (https://www.glassbytes.com/2015/04/florida-collision-repair-shops-ask-judge-to-deny-motions-to-dismiss/) “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.

The judge has not issued any decisions at press time.

To view a copy of the collision repair company’s response, click here.

To view a copy of the motion for sanctions, click here.

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