Body Shop Files Response to State Farm in Tortious Interference Suit; Argues That State Farm is Not a Party to Its Relationship with Customers
May 29, 2009

Gunder's Auto Center, a body shop based in Lakeland, Fla., has filed a response to State Farm Insurance's motion to dismiss its tortious interference suit. In the suit, Gunder's alleges that State Farm tortiously interfered with at least three customers and made "slanderous and/or tortious statements to those identified prospective customers."

Gunder's claims these false statements included State Farm advising that the shop was overcharging its customers; that it doesn't repair its customers' vehicles in a timely and efficient way; and that Gunder's repair equipment does not pass State Farm's inspection and is lacking in quality.

In State Farm's motion to dismiss, the company claimed that because these three customers ultimately went to Gunder's and the body shop submitted claims to State Farm, the insurer "is a party to the business relationship and cannot be found to interfere with that business relationship." Likewise, State Farm claims that Gunder's "fails to allege that State Farm's conduct … actually caused Gunder's customers and prospective customers to not do business with Gunder's."

However, Gunder's argues that although State Farm may sometimes pay Gunder's directly or reimburse customers for work completed there, "Gunder's is never and has never been required to secure the consent of State Farm in order to contract with their, or any other customers or prospective customers, to perform work on their automobiles."

Likewise, the company claims that State Farm is not "the source of the agreement between Gunder's and its customers for the work performed on its customer's automobiles."

Gunder's also points out in its response that customers and/or prospective customers are not required to obtain State Farm's consent before seeking repair work from the shop.

"State Farm is not the source of any business relationship between Gunder's and its customers and/or prospective customers, and its authorization or consent is absolutely uneccessary for purposes of any business relationship between Gunder's and its customers and/or prospective customers," writes Gunder's.

CLICK HERE for full text of State Farm's motion to dismiss.

CLICK HERE for full text of response from Gunder's Auto Center.

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