Richard Campfield, Ultra Bond owner and president, has filed an appeal with respect to a 2015 lawsuit that alleged Safelite engaged in false windshield replacement advertisements that harmed his business. A federal judge in Ohio granted summary judgment to Safelite in March 2021, but now the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court is being asked to review the district court’s decision.
Court documents filed by the plaintiffs state Ultra Bond developed a method of repairing windshield cracks in excess of six inches in length. Campfield said that around that time, Safelite began advertising that all windshields must be replaced if they have a crack of 6 inches or more, according to his amended complaint. The Lawsuit was brought under the Lanham Act, which is the United States’ primary trademark statute.
An Ohio federal judge granted summary judgment to Safelite in March 2021. That decision came two years after the court, in 2019, ruled in favor of Safelite on the company’s motion to dismiss “with respect to the dollar bill rule that Safelite made” as well as statements that it allegedly ghostwrote for insurance companies.
However, the judge also ruled in favor of Ultra Bond as well, at least in part. The court wrote that the plaintiffs’ amended complaint “creates at least a plausible inference that statements either are literally false or mislead a significant number of consumers.”
The notice petitions the Appeals Court to take up three questions stemming from the original lawsuit and subsequent ruling. The first is whether the district court erred in ruling that laches applied as a bar to injunctive relief for the plaintiffs’ claims. According to the court’s prior ruling, the Lanham Act does not include a statute of limitations. Therefore, courts have applied the “equitable doctrine of laches” to determine whether a Lanham Act claim is barred due to a delay in filing.
The second is whether the district court erred in ruling that plaintiffs failed to present evidence of harm “raising a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Safelite’s false or misleading statements proximately damaged plaintiffs …”
The last issue raised is whether plaintiffs, under Lanham, needed to provide evidence showing that Safelite told a known falsehood about them or their products — as opposed to the service for which the products were used – to show proximate cause of injury stemming from violations of the act.