Arizona defendants Sean Alexander, Terry Godfrey and Anthon Godfrey, in the auto glass services business as A&G Auto Glass and sued by GEICO in federal court for alleged fraudulent insurance claims, have pleaded their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
In their answer filed earlier this month in the case GEICO et al. v. A&G Auto Glass, Inc. et al., the three individual defendants assert their rights under the United States and Arizona Constitutions even though the action is a civil suit arguing that “The Fifth Amendment privilege does not only apply to criminal proceedings, but “in any other proceeding, civil or criminal … where the answers might incriminate [the defendant] in future criminal proceedings.”
Furthermore, since the business defendants, A&G Auto Glass, Inc. and Godfrey Companies, LLC d/b/a A&G Auto Glass, are solely owned or controlled by the three individuals who are exercising their Fifth Amendment rights, “each lack knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief about the truth of the specific allegations against them.” As a result of the asserted lack of knowledge, the defendants’ answer has the effect of the denial of the allegations set forth in the lawsuit. Sean Alexander and Terry Godfrey are the sole shareholders of A&G Auto Glass Inc., and, with Anthon Godfrey, are the sole members of the Godfrey Companies AZ, a limited liability corporation.
GEICO filed the $300,000 suit alleging that A&G Auto Glass did not actually provide the claimed windshield replacement services or did not have the standing to file the insurance claims, seeking reimbursement plus treble damages as well as a declaration that it is not responsible for more than $10,000 in outstanding claims. GEICO cited numerous instances where the defendants billed for services never performed or installed a much lower quality, and less expensive, windshield and then generated separate invoices for the insured and GEICO.
GEICO’s suit represents a challenge to the windshield replacement insurance system in Arizona. GEICO has alleged that it and other insurance companies are susceptible to fraud because of the high volume of claims under a no-deductible/assignment of benefit paradigm coupled with the short time frame, usually 30 days, allowed for insurers to pay out claims. GEICO argues that Arizona insurers are open to fraud by glass shops such as A&G that believe that their schemes will go undetected because of the high volume of repair and replacement claims and the limited time that insurance companies have to conduct an investigation.
In the answer filed with the court, the defendants did admit the United States District Court had jurisdiction and that the District Court of Arizona was the appropriate venue for the case. The defendants requested a trial by jury. A trial date has not yet been set but the court has scheduled a case management telephone conference among the parties for May 12, 2021.