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Multidistrict Case in Florida Becomes Heated

Order Reprints

Sept. 17, 2014—The multidistrict lawsuit brought by repair professionals against insurers marches on in Florida’s U.S. District Court, but not without a number of new wrinkles brought about at a hearing on Sept. 11.

Insurance carriers have filed a motion to dismiss the case in each of the six states the litigation was originally filed (Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Utah, Tennessee and Indiana). 

"We believe the complaint is legally insufficient," State Farm representative Dick Luedke told FenderBender on Wednesday. "The lawsuit has no merit and in no way accurately describes the business relationship State Farm has with thousands of body shops across the country."

The insurers’ representing attorneys will present their case for dismissal at a hearing on Nov. 14 in Orlando.

On Monday, though, the shop owners involved in the suit plan to file for injunctive relief from what they claim to have been “retaliatory” acts by insurance carriers, said Allison Fry of Eaves Law Firm, who recently was appointed as the liaison council for the plaintiffs.

“I can certainly tell you that we have a lot of reports from clients that they have received retaliatory measures from insurance carriers, and we will be seeking injunctive relief,” Fry told FenderBender on Tuesday. 

Luedke said he had not heard of any incidents, and the "description of the allegation is not in line with the way State Farm conducts its business." 

The November court date is the next scheduled step in the case. There is also a status conference scheduled for Dec. 5. Fry anticipates a trial date to be set at the December meeting, likely to be scheduled 18 months or so from that time.

The number of plaintiffs is expected to increase, Fry said, as her firm expects as many as 25 additional states to have joined the suit by Oct. 31.

Meanwhile, John Eaves Jr., as well as a number of his shop owner clients, are in Washington D.C. this week to meet with legislators about draft legislation that they propose will create firm laws against steering and collusion.

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