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The Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) announced it has received assurances from contacts in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Senate Judiciary Committee that the agreement in U.S. v. Association of Casualty and Surety Companies, et al (1963 Consent Decree) will be maintained, the inquiry into the judgment is concluded and there are no plans to terminate the agreement.
In April 2019, the DOJ announced plans to review nearly 1,300 antitrust judgments enacted without end dates, and in August 2019, the 1963 Consent Decree was identified as part of the larger deregulatory initiative.
“SCRS swiftly went to work for our industry, and leveraged our partners Chris Johnsen at Jones Walker and Mike Tongour of the TCH Group to address the historical significance of the document, the continued modern day merits and it’s overarching benefit to consumers,” said Aaron Schulenburg, executive director of the SCRS. “The agreement between the insurance industry and the U.S. government was to forever refrain from practices that were established as anti-competitive means of steering, price fixing and depressing and controlling automobile material damage repair costs. Alongside the excellent grassroots response from our membership, SCRS and our representatives effectively communicated the very real concern that a rollback of the agreement would further embolden those prohibited behaviors to the detriment of the motoring public.”
SCRS worked closely with key members of the House and Senate, conducting several small fly-ins allowing members of Congress to hear directly from subject matter experts and collision repair shop owners in their districts, resulting in over a dozen letters and calls from Congressional leaders to the Justice Department.
SCRS specifically wishes to recognize Sen. Kennedy (R-LA) and Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Johnson (R-LA) for their early leadership on the issue, drafting the first letters from the Senate and House respectively. Additional letters of significant support came from Sen. Cassidy (R-LA), Rep. Woodall (R-GA), Rep. Norman (R-SC), Rep. Duncan (R-SC), Rep. Kelly (R-MS), Rep. Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Abraham (R-LA) and Rep. Graves (R-LA), along with many other supportive offices making calls to the department as well.
The DOJ open comment period, which was extended specifically for comments on this Decree to Oct. 2, 2019, also became one of the two most commented on Decrees of the 1,300 proposed for termination.
“Preserving the document and maintaining the status quo was always the objective,” said Brett Bailey, chairman of SCRS. “What we found in the process was a shining example of policymakers and representatives who listened intently to the concerns of our industry and our consumers. We are grateful to the Justice Department for their thorough approach and thoughtful deliberation, and to those Members of Congress that stood as champions to maintain consumer protections. Our membership and the consumers they serve are in debt to the display of leadership. It is also the perfect example of the work that SCRS does in the background to be the voice of the collision repairer that positively impacts every business. There are countless reasons that collision repair businesses should be members of SCRS, and stepping up to this type of advocacy work for the industry is certainly one of them.”