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Attorneys do not view this action as a setback as they had been expecting such a decision by the court and thus are poised to take action.
On Jan. 21, a U.S. District Court dismissed six parts of a Florida lawsuit brought by body shops in that state against insurers for violating the Sherman Act, unjust enrichment, etc., but the attorneys for the shops are not discouraged whatsoever.
“This is not fatal,” said Allison Fry, attorney with the Eaves Law Firm. “It sounds ugly because [the judge] used words like dismiss. It will delay the process, but it doesn’t mean we’re done. Far from it.
“We have been expecting this, quite frankly, in reading the court at both the hearing and in previous rulings. We anticipated this would be the road he would take, and he did, so we have been preparing for it for several weeks and we will certainly meet his deadline and provide him with the information he requested.”
Fry added, “We, of course, disagree. We believe the complaint was more than adequate as initially drafted, but the judge requested additional information on several of the claims, particularly the antitrust allegations.”
The six parts that were dismissed without prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs can refile them (on or before Feb. 10, 2015), concerned: quantum meruit, unjust enrichment, tortious interference with business relations, conversion and violations of the Sherman Act.
The part the court dismissed with prejudice, meaning it has been effectively killed, concerned the claim for quasi-estoppel, a doctrine which prevents one party from taking a position inconsistent with a position that was previously advocated, regardless of whether the party to be estopped intended to misrepresent or conceal facts. The plaintiffs asserted that various insurers would abide by the P-pages only when it suited them.
“For example, when a repair said five hours on the P-pages but, because of the nature of the wreck, it took six or seven hours, they would refuse to pay the actual repair time,” Fry says. “But when a repair doesn’t take as long as it should, say, two hours, the insurer will say, ‘No, we think you should be only paid for one hour.’ They apply the databases when it suits them.
“We will file an amended complaint as directed by the court. We are expecting [the judge] will issue four more orders given that there were five states subject to the motion hearing in November, and he will issue separate orders for each one, which makes perfect sense because state law varies and there are various statutes at issue in some states and not in others and he needs to scrutinize each one appropriately.”