Judge Discharges Show Cause Orders in Ongoing AOB Fraud Lawsuit

Michael Laurato is a defense attorney in the ongoing battle between Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Allstate Indemnity Company and Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company (collectively Allstate) and defendants Auto Glass America LLC (AGA) and its owner, Charles Isaly. Laurato recently responded to the court’s order to show cause why his side should not be held in contempt for the following: its failure to withdraw a prior motion to compel; its failure to comply with local rules; and the attorney’s alleged lack of candor in the court, according to his response. Laurato requested the order to show cause be discharged because he was not involved in the conferral, filing, or refusal to withdraw the motion to compel. The presiding judge discharged the show cause orders.

“The first concern raised by the court in its show cause order arises because ‘the [U.S. District, Orlando division] Court finds it necessary to once again address the continued failure to comply with Local Rule 3.01(g) and Laurato’s action in this case.’ The Court then goes on to state that ‘[t]his is the second time that the Court has had to address the parties’ failure to comply with Local Rule 3.01(g),’” a portion of Laurato’s response reads.

The District Court highlighted two areas of concern warranting a show cause order. According to the Court, the first issue “arose when Laurato refused to withdraw a motion to compel filed against the wrong party.” According to the show cause order, Laurato filed a second motion after Allstate noted the error instead of withdrawing the incorrect motion.

“Laurato’s first filing in the case was his notice of appearance on January 27, 2020.  Laurato neither filed a motion to compel against the wrong party, nor refused to withdraw it. The docket reflects that motion to compel was filed on December 23, 2019. Laurato also did not file the second motion to compel against the correct plaintiff. The plaintiffs filed the response to that motion on January 20, 2020,” a portion of Laurato’s response reads.

Laurato also stated he did confer with the opposing counsel about the motion in compliance with Local Rule 3.01(g), in writing, on the telephone, and in person.

According to the Court, Laurato “failed to mention that the parties agreed to a mutual extension of time to serve initial disclosures—based on a request by the defendants’ co-counsel—and that the plaintiffs’ disclosures were served by the extended deadline.” The Court then concluded that “[t]hese actions have unnecessarily multiplied the proceedings and evidence a lack of candor to the Court.” However, Laurato states he was unaware of co-counsel extending the deadline for Allstate’s initial disclosures and no one brought this to his attention prior to filing the motion.

According to his response, Laurato believes the order to show cause should be discharged. Laurato also requested an evidentiary hearing before the imposition of any sanctions or attribution of any misconduct against him if the order to show cause was not discharged, according to his response.

Case Background

The lawsuit began with Allstate’s complaint alleging that both AGA and Isaly allegedly pressured its insureds into hiring them for windshield replacements, while obtaining assignment of benefits (AOBs). The lawsuit began to heat up, as AGA and Isaly responded to Allstate’s emergency motion 24 hours before the presiding judge issued an order. To which AGA and Isaly filed another motion against Allstate. Shortly after a mediation was scheduled.

The insurance company previously urged the court to deny AGA and Isaly’s motion to compel Allstate to provide its pricing agreements. Allstate cited confidentiality as its reason for not providing its pricing agreements. However the presiding judge ordered the insurance company to produce its pricing agreements.

From there AGA and Isaly responded to Allstate’s emergency protective order. The presiding judge then issued an order regarding the emergency motion. Last week Allstate requested additional time to meet with the defendants for mediation, to which the judge granted parts and dismissed parts. Ultimately the Court extended the mediation deadline until May 29, 2020. Following the mediation extension, Allstate filed an unopposed motion that requested additional time for the insurance company to respond to the defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Earlier this month Allstate asked the court for a dismissal on AGA and Isaly’s motion to compel “computations of each category of damages” for each plaintiff, citing that the motion was frivolous.

Look to a future edition of glassBYTEs for continued coverage of the suit.

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