ABRA Responds to Law Suit

Tim Adelmann, one of the owners of ABRA Auto Body and Glass and executive vice president of business development for the Minneapolis-based company, spoke with glassBYTEs today about the suit filed against it by two former employees charging it with false billing and other illegal business practices. (See glassBYTEs news item March 3.)

"Our response is that there is no basis or merit to this suit. They claim that they were terminated because they were whistleblowers but they didn't even come to us, which is what whistleblowers are supposed to do. They never brought any of these things to our attention at any management level."

According to Adelmann, the termination of the two employees was part of a restructuring of responsibilities and reduction of overhead. "In November 2004 we changed a business practice in ABRA's collision call center, the department in which these two worked. Rather than have a central group of employees make follow-up calls regarding an estimate given to a potential customer, we determined that it is more effective for each repair center to make these follow-up calls themselves. This resulted in the termination of these two individuals. To further decentralize and downsize our corporate staff, six other ABRA employees were terminated on the same day. The two employees who filed this lawsuit against ABRA were among the eight team members terminated," he stated.

"We are going to seek to have the suit dismissed," he added. "We have to respond to the allegations. They alleged that we charged for more time than it took to do a job. This is on the collision side and we charge on a flat rate basis. So they don't even know what they are talking about here," he stated.

"They also alleged that we billed for parts that we didn't use. When we look up a part in our data base, it tells us if we need a moulding. If we get the moulding and then the technician is able to save the old one and we don't use it, we write on the invoice that it was not used. There is a chance that this notation might not be made, but the chance that this would happen is small, and we have checked with our technicians and feel that this hasn't happened," Adelmann explained.

"We are currently undertaking an internal audit to determine whether unintentional over billing has occurred. If the audit finds that inadvertent over billing did occur, those insurance companies or individual customers will be notified and ABRA will provide reimbursement. ABRA has never intentionally or fraudulently over billed insurance companies or customers for work that we have performed," Adelmann said.

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