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ARA Applauds Dismissal of Lawsuit Against West Virginia Body Shop

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Jan. 16, 2015—The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) released a statement on Friday applauding the recent ruling by a West Virginia judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed in Dec. 2011 by then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw that accused a collision repair facility's utilization of recycled OEM parts.

The ruling in Kanawha County follows the June 2014 ruling by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals that also affirmed the use of salvage/recycled OEM crash parts in vehicle repairs. While this specific litigation has been going on for several years, this final ruling ends decades of mischaracterizing recycled, OEM parts as aftermarket in the state of West Virginia.

In Dec. 2011, the state of West Virginia filed a complaint and petition for injunction against Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Greg Chandler's Frame & Body LLC, alleging that the defendants violated the state's Automotive Crash Parts Act and Consumer Credit and Protection Act by repairing new vehicles using salvaged crash parts without obtaining the written consent of the motor vehicle owner at the time of the repair.

The Crash Parts Act requires body shops and insurance companies to disclose to vehicle owners the use of certain replacement crash parts in repairs conducted within three years

of the repaired vehicle's original manufacture date, as well as written consent from the vehicle owner to use aftermarket crash parts and the distribution of a statutory notice to the owner that aftermarket crash parts have been used.

In a June 2014 opinion, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals considered the applications of the Crash Parts Act and the Consumer Credit and Protection Act and found neither statute prohibited body shops or insurers from utilizing recycled/salvaged parts, applauded the insurers for using measures to reduce premium costs for their customers.

The Court ruled that aftermarket crash parts and salvage/recycled OEM crash parts are diametrically different products and not interchangeable in the context of the statute. Thus, the use of salvaged/recycled OEM parts by Liberty Mutual and the collision repair shop did not violate the Crash Parts Act. The lower court that ruled on Jan. 12 originally ruled in favor of McGraw's office and the case went on appeal before state Supreme Court justices, who reversed the decision and sent it back to circuit court.

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