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Progressive Suit Against Body Shop Owner Dismissed; Anti-Steering Case Continues

The Westchester Civil Supreme Court of New York last week dismissed a case filed by Progressive Insurance against auto body shop owner Greg Coccaro and his company, North State Custom, alleging insurance fraud. In the case, Progressive claimed that the shop had committed insurance fraud via its charges for a vehicle of one of its insureds—alleging that the shop inflated the charges to make the car a total loss, and that both the shop and the insured received payment for the vehicle's repairs, Coccaro says.

According to Coccaro, the case was dismissed on the grounds the Progressive had a variety of methods of recourse it could have used, including noting on the payment for the job that it was "paid in protest," but had not done so.

"It's a feeling of relief, for which I'm certainly grateful," he says, "but it's not really a feeling of jubilation because I still have all these law bills to pay. This was a three-year ordeal that affected my family and business, and being accused of being a thief is not a nice thing to defend. This has never happened to be before."

Progressive, however, plans to appeal, according to company spokesperson Christe Cote.

"We are disappointed by the court's decision to dismiss the case and we plan to appeal," she says, in a statement issued to™/AGRR magazine today.

Meanwhile, Coccaro's anti-steering suit, filed in March 2007, continues, and currently is in the discovery stage. Though the actual steering charges have been removed from the case, based on the fact that only a governmental agency can file charges based on steering, charges of alleged tortuous interference and deceptive business practices are still under review.

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