Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Responds to Safelite’s Interrogatory

gavel 2The Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce has objected to Safelite Group and Safelite Solutions interrogatory questions in the U.S. Federal District Court for Minnesota. Safelite Group and Safelite Solutions filed a lawsuit against the Commissioner in April 2015 to enjoin and declare invalid enforcement of a Minnesota statute which excludes the company “from doing business without the opportunity for a hearing.”

In the lawsuit, Safelite referred to a settlement agreement  between the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Insurance Division, and Auto Club Group that provides for the Auto Club Group to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 and “cease and desist from using Safelite Solutions, or any other subsidiary of Safelite Group Inc. as its administrator of automobile glass claims in Minnesota,” according to the consent order.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Insurance Division, reviewed 125 automotive glass and accident claim files, which led to its decision, according to the settlement agreement.

In the interrogatory, Safelite and Safelite Solutions ask Michael Rothman, the Commissioner, to identify and describe in detail each instance in which he communicated with any state employee and/or any automotive glass repair shop relating to Safelite between January 1, 2012 and April 27, 2015, including the date, subject matter and all other persons involved with that communication.

“The Commissioner objects to the extent this interrogatory calls for the identification of every communication that may have touched upon the identified issues as being unreasonable and overbroad,” according to the court filing. “Answering further, the Commissioner periodically meets with staff and generally holds weekly meetings with senior staff, including Marty Fleischhacker [assistance commissioner of enforcement]. At such meetings, the Commissioner would on occasion receive limited updates concerning the status of the enforcement division’s investigation into the Auto Group and other insurance clients of Safelite. The updates were limited in scope, and the Commissioner was not involved in the decisions made as part of the investigations.”

On December 14, 2011, a meeting was on the Commissioner’s calendar with Mike Schmaltz of the Minnesota Glass Association.

“It is not clear if the Commissioner attended the meeting or, if so, for what period of time,” according to the court filing.

The Commissioner’s attorney says the public official had no role in any investigation of Safelite or any alleged threatened investigation or conduct. He received limited updates from Fleischhacker about the enforcement division’s investigations.

“The Commissioner did not participate in any of the negotiations leading to the consent order between the department and the Auto Group,” reads the court document. “The Commissioner was apprised by Mr. Fleischhacker that the matter was progressing toward a consent order, with only limited details concerning the terms of the consent order.”

All parties must be ready for a bench trial by August 29, 2016, according to a scheduling order.

To read the Commissioner’s response to the interrogatory, click here.

To review Safelite’s complaint filed in District Court, click here.

To view the Commissioner’s response to Safelite, click here.

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