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Ohio Shop Wins Suit Against American Family Insurance

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Aug. 13, 2015—Three-C Body Shop, an Ohio collision repair business, announced on Wednesday that it has won its lawsuit against American Family Insurance.

The issue began when a vehicle owner had his or her vehicle towed to Three-C Body shop for repair. During the repair process, American Family Insurance recognized that they had not properly evaluated the cost to repair. After reviewing Three-C’s blueprint, the insurer elected to deem the vehicle a total loss. American Family settled with the vehicle owner and took possession of the vehicle. Before doing so, Three-C Body Shop deducted its billing for services rendered from the money they had received for the repair. The insurer contested Three-C Body Shop’s billing, resulting in legal proceedings.

On April 10, 2013, American Family Insurance filed a lawsuit for replevin against Three-C Body Shop due to the billing dispute. The matter was then taken to a bench trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Ohio Civil Division, on Sept. 29, 2014. On January 21, 2015, the magistrate ruled in favor of the insurer.

After the ruling, Three-C’s legal team immediately filed a motion for reconsideration, which was granted. On April 29, the magistrate reversed his earlier judgement and ruled in favor of Three-C Body Shop.

“It’s either one-hand didn’t know what the other-hand was doing and it was a false action, which is unlikely; We have been to court a number of times with American Family and find them to be quite inept in that venue,” said Bob Juniper, owner and president of Three-C Body Shop, when asked why American Family would seize a vehicle in their possession. “It’s more probable that the insurer used the action as a predatory practice  to use the legal system as a means to fight us on our charges and it was with intent that the insurer filed a motion with the court for a Writ of Replevin.”

Juniper goes on to state: “Some insurers have used and abused the legal system and employed a Replevin in an effort to dare the repairer into filing a lawsuit against their customer to recover their billing. This generally results in a lengthy legal battle (as was ours) which the insurer will make as costly as possible. The insurer’s know that most shop owners are ill prepared and don’t want to file a lawsuit against their own customers and incur the legal costs, and as a result, the repairers often cave to the insurer’s pressures and reduce their billings. This often times results in the shop merely accepting what they can for their billing and foregoing or “eating” the rest to avoid a Replevin. Thereafter, the repairers accept what they’re given to avoid similar issues in the future. The insurer wins and the repairer loses. At Three-C We don’t play that game, we charge what’s competitive and reasonable and will do what is necessary to collect it and stop such behavior”

The court initially sided with the insurer and then reversed its ruling when the magistrate learned that Three-C had relinquished the vehicle and American Family Insurance had taken possession of it well before the Replevin was filed. The insurer also filed a claim against Three-C Body Shop for violation of the Consumer Sales Practice. The court ruled in favor of Three-C Body Shop in both claims and American Family was not entitled to any award.

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