Florida Price Fixing Litigation Dismissed
Sept. 25, 2015—On Wednesday, a Florida federal judge threw out a price-fixing lawsuit against 39 insurance companies. The case, A & E Auto Body, Inc. v. 21st Century Centennial Insurance Company, accused State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. of price-fixing, steering and forcing shops to perform unsafe repairs.
The suit started in Mississippi over a year ago, with more states following in their own courts. A motion was filed in 2014 to consolidate the separate cases to one district for purposes of streamlining the fact-finding portion of the suit. Insurers repeatedly filed motions to dismiss the case and three separate times it was granted without prejudice, allowing it to be refiled.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell dismissed the litigation with prejudice. According to Presnell’s ruling, despite being given multiple opportunities, the repair shops had not come close to meeting the minimum pleading requirements for any of their claims.
“This is the plaintiffs’ third arduous attempt to state a claim. The problems identified in response to their initial complaint—shotgun pleading, vagueness and implausibility—have persisted in their subsequent efforts,” Judge Presnell wrote.
The case was thrown out because the shops failed to show that the defendants took steps that would otherwise have been against their economic self-interest.