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CCRE Legal Seminar Featured High-Profile Attorneys

Legal eagles discussed cases on tortious interference, diminished value and other issues collision repair facilities are commonly confronted with.

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Writer Charlie Barone has been working in and around the body shop business for the last 35 years, having owned and managed several collision repair shops. He's an ASE Master Certified technician, a licensed damage appraiser and has been writing technical, management and opinion pieces since 1993.

attorney erica eversman has accumulated an enormous wealth of knowledge about insurers and their claims practices. “insurers call me the devil,” she said.a major force behind ccre is tony lombardozzi of new hampshire, an ex-marine and shop owner. at the march 30-31 seminar, lombardozzi summarized the history and decline of the auto body business over the last 25 years: “we gave it away,” he said, referring to the loss of control over the repairs, methodology, costs and business choices. “now, it’s time to take it back.”jack aigner (left), a former philadelphia area shop owner and activist, talks with bill byrne. byrne brought a suit against state farm and won a settlement (the figure was sealed) in the 1990s, but remains involved in industry issues today.vermont attorney bob mcclallen credited his client, mike parker, with having excellent documentation, which was a key to winning his case against nationwide. he remarked that the body shop-consumer-insurance company triad constituted the “weirdest area of law [with which] i’ve ever been involved.”greg coccaro, owner of north state custom in bedford hills, new york, is no stranger to fending off legal attacks by insurers. his shop successfully beat progressive last year after they charged him with repair fraud, among other things, in a civil suit. now coccaro is building his case against them.Attorney A. Brent Geohagan of Lakeland, Fla.: “We’ve got every insurance company in line – if you don’t pay, we’re going after you.”The Coalition for Collision Repair Excellence (CCRE) held a legal seminar March 30-31 for body shop owners and operators featuring several attorneys who shared the knowledge they’ve accumulated through years of bringing cases for body shop owners and defending them as well. The cases they went over involved tortious interference,
diminished value and other issues collision repair facilities are often
confronted with.

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Panel members included Erica Eversman, general counsel for Vehicle Information Services of Bath, Ohio, and Robert McClallen of Vermont, who represented Mike Parker in his successful suit against Nationwide over short pays on collision claims. Also on hand were John Parese of Connecticut, Bill Bensley of Bensley Law Offices in Philadelphia, A. Brent Geohagan of Florida and Ashley Van Earl of Louisiana.

CCRE, an organization that was established in the mid-1990s, is on the leading edge of disseminating legal information to body shops. It held two legal seminars prior to this event, so this one served as a secondary level of training for its members.

CCRE has traditionally shunned insurance companies and has barred DRP shops from their membership, a long-standing policy which has marginalized the association. Yet it has endured as a trade association and weathered major shifts in the body shop business and its relations with insurance companies. CCRE regards insurers as an adversary, which is in contrast to the view of the mainstream industry groups.


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