The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts (AASP/MA) announced a Dec. 13 court decision which ruled in favor of a member shop, Mike’s Auto Body in Fall River, and partnering business, All Day & Night Towing, against Travelers Insurance.
“This court ruling in favor of Mike’s Auto Body is a positive thing for the collision industry,” said Lucky Papageorg, executive director of AASP/MA, who testified on behalf of Mike’s Auto Body. “It may not set a precedent, but it’s surely something to be optimistic about. Body shops can fight and win.”
The appeal dismisses a small claims court magistrate ruling that favored Travelers Insurance’s claim, which alleged that Mike’s Auto Body and All Day & Night Towing were engaging in unfair business practices, challenging their rates and other charges.
“The judge found in our favor, which essentially means that the prior judgments awarded against the body shop and tow company have been vacated and they do not owe Travelers any money,” said Jordan J. Rodrigues, the attorney for the two automotive businesses.
In the end, this judge found the shops’ rates to be justified, explained Rodrigues.
“We were vindicated as the judge found our rates to be fair and not unjustified,” Rodrigues said. “The shops did their work and are entitled to be paid for the services rendered.
“It’s kind of like a David versus Goliath mentality — a billion-dollar insurance company putting all this pressure on the small business. A lot of times, these businesses get letters in the mail from insurers requesting refunds or threatening to sue for triple damages and attorney fees. Nine times out of 10, these small shops probably cave and give in. I’d like to think that maybe this win will put the brakes on that practice.”
For more information on AASP/MA, visit aaspma.org.