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 and Knuff.

"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 said.
He also credited the association and the unity within for the ability to prevail.

"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.

CLICK HERE for full statement from ABAC.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to AGRR magazine.