New York Auto Glass Shop Owner Responds to Insurers in Ongoing Anti-Trust, Breach of Contract Suit
August 17, 2011

An auto glass shop’s suit against 14 insurers and two third-party administrators continues in a Federal court in New York. David Harner, owner of Auto Glass of Westchester Windshield Doctor, alleges those involved have committed breach of contract, fraud, unfair claims settlement practices, restraint of trade, anti-trust, and coercion, among other charges, through their alleged actions in dealing with his business and his customers. In July, the insurers’ filed memos with the court advising of their intentions to motion to dismiss the suit and Harner’s response to those memos has been released by the court.

“The essence of this complaint are the defendants’ unreasonable actions that those defendants undertake in their attempt to control a market for those defendants benefit, at the expense of the consumer,” says Harner in a letter to the judge. “This action is about the defendant’s failure to pay the ‘fair and equitable,’ ‘reasonable and customary’ and ‘reasonable’ charges submitted by the plaintiff to the defendants. The defendant’s actions are designed to force the plaintiff to perform work in a specific manner and charge amounts specified by the defendants for that work, in a manner determined by those defendants. This system defines labor as a commodity, and fails to address the actual and true costs of auto glass repair and replacement on a ‘per incident’ and ‘average cost’ basis. In reality, the defendants have created a system that is detrimental to the consumer by increasing auto glass claim costs, and unnecessary windshield replacements (thereby benefiting Safelite and PGW, owners of the ‘CLAIMS MANAGEMENT’ companies, and manufacturers of windshields).”

Harner goes on to say that the insurers “fail to admit and accept that the plaintiff consistently provides lower costs to those defendants and the consumer at large. None of the defendants have alleged or offered proof that any repair shop was ‘recommended’ or ‘suggested’ to any of the plaintiff’s customers concerning the claims in question, making the citation of the informal opinion of the New York State Insurance Department General Counsel moot.”

Harner also adds that he plans to supply witness statements and recordings of phone calls to support his claim of breach of contract.
“The plaintiff, as assignee, is acting on behalf of the insured to collect policy proceeds due under their contract with the insurer for repairs performed by the plaintiff, and where the insured has assigned to the plaintiff the right to collect for said repairs.”

An oral argument is scheduled for October 28. Stay tuned to glassbytes.com™ for more information.

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