Following Mississippi and Florida’s lead, the Indiana Autobody Association (IABA), along with 14 Indiana collision repair facilities, filed legal action against 12 property and casualty insurance companies and their subsidiaries on April 2, 2014.
The suit accuses the insurers of "engaging in an ongoing, concerted and intentional course of action and
conduct with State Farm acting as the spearhead to improperly and illegally control and depress automobile damage repair costs." In addition, "the insurance companies are improperly intruding upon the relationship between the shops and consumers, and placing the driving public at harm by their practices."
As it pertains to DRP shops, the suit also accuses the insurers of "engaging in an ongoing pattern and
practice of coercion and implied threats to the pecuniary health of the individual plaintiff businesses in order
to force compliance with unreasonable and onerous concessions."
"For decades, the insurers have interfered with the collision repair professional’s obligation to restore the vehicle back to pre-accident condition as humanly possible," said Tony Passwater, IABA executive director. "Over the years, the pressure to compromise the repair quality and safety has increased through many insurer mandates and cost controls. It must stop; the driving public deserves a vehicle that has been repaired properly and is safe.
"I am sure that, in the near future, possibly hundreds of shops will stand up and join this action to allow our industry to repair the vehicles properly for the safety of the consumer. It is unfortunate that the driving public is bombarded daily with billions of dollars of advertising the insurers are spending to convince them that they are a ‘good neighbor’ or ‘on their side,’ but once this action begins to unfold, the real nature of what has been happening will certainly be revealed. We certainly encourage vehicle owners to understand their rights, realize that the collision repair professional is their ally, and insurers are looking to direct them to their shops for their own financial gain, not to ensure their safety."
Passwater commended Attorney John Eaves Jr.’s efforts in acting as lead counsel for the actions across the country.
"He is following an organized and strategic plan to maximize the effect of the lawsuit for our industry," he said. "Some of the top tobacco litigators in the country are now included as legal counsel for many states. Former attorney generals are counsel for many members. The fight is beginning to shift to a more even playing field."