Judicial Panel Grants Lawsuit Consolidation for Repairers Suing Insurance Providers
Aug. 22, 2014—The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted earlier this month the request of collision repair shops in five different states to consolidate their separate, similar lawsuits against various insurance companies.
The case claims the insurance companies intentionally refused to fully and fairly compensate repairers for all the work they performed, and worked to suppress labor rates, participated in steering, along with other violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The defendants in the case make up roughly 80 insurers, including State Farm, Progressive, Allstate, Nationwide, Geico, United Services Automobile Association, USAA, Safeco, Shelter Mutual Insurance Co., Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi, Mississippi Farm Bureau and Shelter General.
The repair shops—located in Florida, Indiana, Utah Tennessee and Mississippi—initially requested in May that their suits be consolidated to the Southern district of Mississippi, but the court deemed Florida as the most convenient location for litigation for the parties involved.
“On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization of the actions on the motion in the Middle District of Florida will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation,” the panel response stated.
The panel agreed with the repair shops that consolidating the cases would “eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent rulings on pretrial matters; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”
The five repair organizations involved in the case are:
- Middle District of Florida: A & E Auto Body Inc.
- Southern District of Indiana: Indiana Autobody Association Inc.
- Southern District of Mississippi: Capitol Body Shop Inc.
- Western District of Tennessee: Brewer body Shop B
- District of Utah: Alpine Straightening Systems
Click here to read the panel’s full comments on the case.