Three-C Body Shops of Columbus, Ohio, is seeking recovery of short-pays, fees and court costs from State Farm for allegedly underpaying for services generally rendered and charged to their customers when their vehicles were labeled total losses.
There are currently 89 active lawsuits between Three-C and State Farm, the first of which began in November 2012. The multi-shop operation is seeking an estimated $296,807.93 for total-loss billings, of which State Farm has agreed to pay only $31,565.03, leaving an unpaid and contested amount to date of $265,242.90. Similar lawsuits will likely be filed.
“When a vehicle becomes a total loss, we cease normal repair-related activities and change to another mode of operation. As such, charges for such activities are assessed that may or may not be consistent with a repair," said Bob Juniper, second-generation owner and president of the 58-year-old
family-owned collision repair business. "Such charges may be processes including but not limited to clean-up from fluid leaks, relocating a disabled vehicle, storage, protection, research, documentation, administrative activities, parts handling and others.
"We have closely studied the high cost of handling and processing total loss vehicles.
In the Columbus area, insurers understand and pay for such charges all but one, that is. State Farm continues to be the odd man out in settling such claims fairly.
"We must be paid for our efforts and liabilities associated with the handling involved in total losses, as such activities are not ‘the cost of doing business.’ We have decided to let the courts decide who is right and who is wrong. Our efforts to work things out with State Farm directly were unsuccessful. I believe the facts will show that the money is owed. We look forward to sharing the results of these cases with the collision repair industry.”
Todd A. Fichtenberg of Skinner & Associates, LLC, one of Three-C’s attorneys, added, “Ohio lacks the statutory provisions that have made those like Ray Gunder in Florida so successful in the recovery of fees and costs. Without that statutory framework, we are using Ohio’s existing laws and good faith arguments for the extension of those laws in an effort to recover Three-C’s fees and costs.”