Auto Body Association Reports Victory in Hartford Case Dealing with Unfair Business Practices
November 18, 2009
A jury in the Stamford Superior Court ordered The Hartford Insurance to pay
$15 million to several Connecticut auto body shop businesses in
a ruling this week dealing with unfair claims practices, according
to a statement from the Auto Body Association of Connecticut (ABAC).
The official court ruling has not yet been released.
The class action lawsuit charged The Hartford with suppressing
body shop labor rates by eliminating the use of independent appraisers
and relying exclusively on its own auto service representatives
to perform appraisals.
"We are gratified that the jury agreed that The Hartford systemically
violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act," says
Bob Skrip, president of ABAC and the other of Skrip's Autobody Inc.
in Prospect, Conn. "This is just one more step in a long road
against The Hartford and other insurance companies that seemingly
disregard both regulations and consumers' best interests. It is
a positive development for consumers and body shops statewide, but
it remains a long process. We are more confident than ever that
we will ultimately prevail."
The group now plans to also seek an injunction stopping this practice,
according to its counsel, David Slossberg of Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg
"The next step is to ask the court for immediate injunctive
relief," says Slossberg. "Our team is looking forward
to crafting that request."
Though the plaintiffs also charged The Hartford with steering customers
to preferred shops in its "customer care repair service program,"
no information has been released about this portion of the suit.
Skrip told glassBYTEs.com/AGRR magazine that he and
others involved have been working on the suit since 2001, and he
feels this is only the beginning.
"This win gives us a tremendous amount of momentum going forward,"
He also credited the association and the unity within for the ability
"We are ecstatic by this win," Skrip said. "It proves
that an association that has some unity within could prevail within
a court of law."
Skrip said he and others spent months away from their businesses
in preparation for the recent trial.
Representatives from The Hartford were not available for comment
at press time.
HERE for full statement from ABAC.
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