Campfield Sues Safelite in California (on Behalf of its Citizens)

Documents recently unsealed by a California court reveal that Ultra Bond owner and president Richard Campfield is suing Safelite on behalf of the people of California for alleged violations of California’s insurance code.

Campfield filed a 2015 lawsuit that alleged Safelite engaged in false windshield replacement advertisements that harmed his business. Court documents filed by the plaintiff 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. That lawsuit was brought under the Lanham Act, which is the United States’ primary trademark statute, in Ohio.

A federal judge in Ohio granted summary judgment to Safelite in March 2021. While the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court is reviewing the district court’s decision, there’s yet another update with respect to the litigation.

Documents dating back to the original filing in July 2020 in the Superior Court of the State of California in San Francisco County were unsealed Sept. 1, 2022. Documents filed by the plaintiff state that “nonpublic internal Safelite documents, and other evidence, revealing Safelite’s knowingly fraudulent and deceptive scheme to inflate claims for unnecessary windshield replacements …” were uncovered by Campfield as part of the suit in Ohio.

Campfield alleges, on behalf of the people of California, that repairs could be performed at costs that are far less to insurance companies and California consumers. It’s further alleged that repair is safer than replacement as the vehicle’s seal on factory-installed windshields cannot be replicated in the event of a replacement.

“Safelite’s deception enriches it at the expense of insurance companies and consumers in California—who pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year in unnecessary costs for windshield replacements—materially increasing insurance premiums to the People of the State of California,” the complaint reads.

Also addressed in the complaint is the 2007 approval of industry standards for windshield repair and replacement, the Repair of Laminated Automotive Glass Standards (ROLAGS). According to the complaint, ROLAGS rejected the 6-inch rule, instead finding that cracks up to and including 14 inches are eligible for repair. It’s further alleged that Safelite, internally, admitted crack repairs up to 24 inches are viable.

“However, if insurance companies adopted the ROLAGS 14-inch repair standard instead of adhering to the 6-inch rule upon which Safelite’s business was premised, Safelite’s profits would be severely impacted,” the complaint continues. “Thus, shortly after the ROLAGS were approved, a Safelite internal document shows that Safelite undertook a self-described ‘attack on long crack repair’ (and the ROLAGS)—even as it stated in the same document that the safety of long crack repair was ‘not an issue.’”

Relief is sought under Section 1871.7(b) of the California Insurance Code, the California Insurance Frauds Prevention Act. The section permits interested persons to file lawsuits with respect to false claims made to insurance companies.

Prayers for relief include, namely, $10,000 civil penalties for each alleged false and fraudulent claim Safelite submitted to insurance companies insuring California drivers. The company is also asked to pay damages “sufficient to disgorge its unlawful profit and provide restitution for its fraudulent conduct.”

Additional relief sought includes the prohibition of further oral or written statements from Safelite with respect to the claim that only cracks up to 6 inches are repairable. Safelite is also asked to disseminate “corrective advertising.”

Some documents remained unavailable for public view as of Monday, Oct. 3.

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