State Farm said May 9 that it plans to close 10 field offices in Illinois and 14 more in Indiana and Michigan, the insurer's latest cost-cutting move and one expected to save $8 million over five years.
The consolidation could displace hundreds of employees, but none based in the Twin Cities. The Illinois Operations Center in Bloomington will remain open and State Farm's corporate headquarters is not affected.
There are 1,300 employees in the 24 offices, which mainly handle auto and home claims, and State Farm's goal is to retain everyone, said spokeswoman Missy Lundberg. She said some claim representatives will stay put and work from home, but others, particularly in more administrative roles, will be given the option of relocating to one of six remaining Great Lakes Zone offices -- two each in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.
full story HERE
Porsche is expected to move its North American headquarters, and hundreds of jobs the plant provides the northern Georgia suburb it currently calls home, from Sandy Springs to the old Ford plant site near the Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.
Porsche is expected to build offices where the plant was demolished and a test track similar to its Porsche Silverstone facility in England.
Fulton County Commissioner William “Bill” Edwards said Hapeville’s mayor and city council have been working hard to fill the plant site and it makes good economic sense for Porsche, with the site’s proximity to the airport and interstate.
“This is just the first step,” Edwards said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “South Fulton has always been misrepresented as a bunch of poor black folks and poor white folks. Other people are finding out that it’s a diamond in the rough.”
Registration for the Society of Collision Repair Specialists' (SCRS) 2011 Repairer Driven Education (RDE) series is open, and is complemented by new enhancements such as the ability to purchase individual sessions, or a full series pass. The sessions will be held on each day of the SEMA Show in the afternoon.
RDE features subject matters geared specifically to collision repair businesses, and will include a high-energy, impactful headline presentation from Afterburner Fighter Pilots on Thursday evening which you won't want to miss.
Following the headline presentation, SCRS will be hosting a special invitation-only reception. Be one of the first 200 to register for an RDE full-series pass prior to October 1st to receive your invitation to the SCRS Afterburner After-Party. The evening event will be held at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 3rd, and will be located in the famed Las Vegas Hilton rooftop Sky Villas. The Sky Villas are almost entirely geared toward the Las Vegas elite, and SCRS has put together an uforgettable evening to share with our RDE attendees. In addition to being recognized as the largest and most luxurious suites in the city, attendees will benefit from remaining on-site at the SCRS headquarter hotel; which translates to no cab lines, and no cab fare, to get to and from the event.
More details on the event can be accessed in the RDE Digital Overview which was recently published by SCRS. This overview contains all information you should need to easily plan your trip to Las Vegas this November.
About SEMA and the SEMA Show: The SEMA Show is a trade show produced by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), a nonprofit trade association founded in 1963. Since the first SEMA Show debuted in 1967, the annual event has served as the leading venue bringing together manufacturers and buyers within the automotive specialty equipment industry. Products featured at the SEMA Show include those that enhance the styling, functionality, comfort, convenience and safety of cars and trucks. Additional details available at www.semashow.com or www.sema.org, (909) 396-0289
BASF Automotive Refinish announced the completion of its annual ColorSource Conference, a three-day interactive conference for single line distributors of BASF refinish paints and coatings. During the conference held April 27 – 30 in Clearwater Beach, FL at the Sand Pearl Resort, BASF re-launched the ColorSource PREMIER Program and shared annual objectives in addition to networking and strategic activities.
“Gathering all ColorSource PREMIER partners together enables collaboration and development of strategic initiatives for continued market growth,” stated Denise Kingstrom, Strategic Accounts Manager for BASF Automotive Refinish. “It provides an opportunity outside of our day-to-day activities to recognize industry progress, and share best practices.”
ColorSource PREMIER distributors are single‐line BASF distributors that benefit from a unique association with BASF, allowing them a competitive edge. BASF ColorSource PREMIER members distribute only BASF refinish paint products, and are recognized by the company as important strategic partners in the aftermarket automotive refinish industry.
To learn about BASF refinish products visit us at: www.basfrefinish.com.
Alabama state laws have scrap yard owner David Hickman dealing with frustrated customers when he tells them that he can’t take their junk cars without a valid title. “Lots of times customers want to argue with us when we tell them they have to have it,” he said to al.com. “But that’s the law, we can’t take a car without title.”
As of 2010, people selling cars to scrap have had to have the title in order to sell. This has caused some friction as owners of junk cars often don’t have an official title in their name, either because it’s been lost or because the car was signed over to them by a previous owner, Hickman said.
The requirement has all but killed the auto recycling part of the scrap business, according to Hickman. Hickman isn't the only one feeling the pain; the law has affected every link in the recycling food chain.
Materials from junk cars feed low-level parts dealers and car crushers, which feed auto-shredding operations like Hickman’s. Scrap metal generated by the shredders also feeds mills and manufacturers like SSAB in north Mobile County and Huron Valley Steel Corp. in Anniston.
The Associated Press has reported that the Florida House approved a bill on May 4 that makes it more difficult for injured plaintiffs to win product liability damages from auto makers and other manufacturers.
The measure was approved by a vote of 80-35 and will be sent to Republican Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.
The bill, which the pro-business Scott is expected to sign, neutralizes a 2001 Florida Supreme Court decision against Ford that said evidence of the primary cause of a crash, such as driver error or drunkenness, cannot be introduced in product liability cases.
According to the new law, juries would have to "consider the fault of all persons who contributed to an accident when apportioning damages in a products liability action."
"Not giving the jury all the details, including a critical piece of information about the driver's condition, is unfair and absurd," said Barney Bishop III, president of Associated Industries of Florida, the state's lobby for big business.
"Correcting this inequity will now open the doors to automotive manufacturing companies that previously had not considered Florida as a base of operation," Bishop added.
The legislation on the "crashworthiness doctrine" was the focus of a lobbying duel between trial lawyers who represent injured parties and business interests led by Ford Motor Co.
Under that doctrine, if, for example, "an airbag fails to deploy during an initial collision and the driver subsequently collides with the windshield, the manufacturer may be liable for damages attributable to the second collision caused by the defective airbag," according to a staff analysis.
Democrats have argued the bill would shift medical costs for seriously-injured crash victims to taxpayers and that manufacturers should be held accountable for their mistakes.
"See how much they paid to make sure this happens," state Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami, said in debate, referring to Ford's and other business interests' campaign contributions to Republican lawmakers.
"What this bill says is, if you don't put on a seatbelt, it's your fault," Steinberg added. "But if the seat belt doesn't work, it's not their fault."
But state Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, said the "doomsday scenario" that deserving plaintiffs would go empty-pocketed from the courthouse was unfounded.
"Judges can still make rulings about quality and weight (of evidence)," he said. "We shouldn't shield relevant evidence from juries."
The law overrules the decision in the case of Karen D'Amario, whose then-teenage son was badly burned and lost three limbs when the car he was riding in crashed into a tree and exploded. The driver was killed.
D'Amario alleged her son's injuries were due mostly to the explosion caused by a defective relay switch on a fuel pump. The jury sided with Ford, which argued the switch was fine and blamed the fire on the collision because it ruptured the car's oil pan.
The justices ruled that the jury was confused by evidence that the driver was drunk and speeding, instead of focusing on the product liability allegation. The opinion reversed the jury's verdict and said such evidence should be excluded from future cases that allege "enhanced" injuries.
In April this year Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California denied the summary judgment motions of several car insurers in a class action alleging they created a sham organization to eliminate competition in the market for repair parts.
The plaintiffs in Perez et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. et al. are California automobile insurance policyholders who allege that defendant car insurers set up the Certified Automotive Parts Association to provide inferior replacement parts in violation of California’s Cartwright Act and Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiffs also allege that the insurers unlawfully conspired to stifle competition in the auto repair market by agreeing to offer exclusively policies that provide inferior repair parts and to exclude other insurance companies.
The original complaint was filed in 2006, and a third amended complaint was filed in November 2010. Defendants argued that the amended complaint should be dismissed because the plaintiffs did not meet the Twombly standard to establish a conspiracy. Judge Ware disagreed and held that the facts, if taken as true, were sufficient to show that the insurers conspired to eliminate competition for auto parts.
The defendants include State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Geico General Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, and Allstate Insurance.
The following legal analysis appears in a Legal blog by Williams Mullen law firm, written by James M. Burns
In late March, a long-simmering antitrust action filed against several auto insurers and the Certified Automotive Parts Association (“CAPA”) in the Northern District of California, in which the defendants are accused of conspiring to promote the use of inferior quality repair parts for insured repairs, was finally cleared to begin discovery by District Court Judge James Ware. Judge Ware’s ruling in Perez v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance et al, finally permits the plaintiffs’ action to move forward into discovery, a full five years after the case originally was filed and after two prior dismissals of the case by the district court were reversed by the Ninth Circuit.
Unlike Judge Ware’s earlier rulings in the case (that plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to assert their claims -- reversed by the Ninth Circuit in 2009 -- and a subsequent ruling that plaintiffs’ claims fell under the exclusive authority of the Insurance Commissioner, reversed in 2010), the defendants’ most recent motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ action focused on more pedestrian legal theories -- whether plaintiffs’ Third Amended Complaint alleged sufficient facts to satisfy the pleading requirements of the Supreme Court’s Twombly decision and whether the alleged agreement, even if proved, actually constituted a restraint of trade.
Turning first to defendants’ Twombly argument, Judge Ware noted that plaintiffs had alleged that the defendants had “conspired to suppress competition on the basis of the quality of repair parts,” and that the alleged conspiracy had been furthered by “an agreement to create, finance and direct CAPA as a sham organization whose true purpose is to certify inferior-quality parts.” Acknowledging that “at this stage of the litigation, the Court does not determine whether actual proof of these facts is probable,” but only “whether a plaintiff has done more than offer a bare assertion of conspiracy,” Judge Ware ruled that plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged a conspiracy to suppress competition and denied defendants’ Twombly argument.
Next, Judge Ware assessed whether defendants’ alleged agreement, if proved, constituted a restraint of trade under the Cartwright Act, the California antitrust law under which plaintiffs’ action was brought. (Notably, plaintiffs’ claims were pled under the Cartwright Act, and not the federal antitrust laws, because similar claims – brought by the same plaintiff’s attorney – were found to be McCarran-exempt by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 in Gilchrist v. State Farm Automobile Insurance). Judge Ware noted that “the Cartwright Act, like the Sherman Act, makes a conspiracy among competitors to restrict output unlawful per se,” and that “output reduction does not simply refer to the number of units produced, but also involves a qualitative judgment.” Applying this principle, Judge Ware concluded that plaintiffs’ allegation of an agreement “to restrict output to a product of inferior quality counts as an output restriction,” and thus plaintiffs had stated an actionable antitrust claim under the Cartwright Act. Accordingly, after five years in the California courts, the case will now proceed into full merits discovery.
As shop owners and techs know, but consumers usually don't, car maintenance isn't just under the hood. A cracked windshield is a safety risk. It can impair the driver's vision and put passengers at risk.
Most automotive safety experts rank the windshield as the third most important safety component in today's vehicles, behind seatbelts and airbags. Laws require seatbelt use and prevent tampering with airbags, but there are no laws that govern replacement windshield installation.
The Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standards Council (AGRSS) promotes safe auto glass industry standards, which an auto glass technician should follow. Consumers should ask these questions before a replacement windshield installation:
- Will the old adhesive be removed from the vehicle frame? If the adhesive isn't removed down to the adhesive manufacturer's recommended level, the fit may not be tight and the new adhesive won't bond correctly.
- Will the technician wear gloves to keep from contaminating the glass? If oil and dirt get on the edges, the new adhesive (called urethane) may not bond correctly.
- Will the new urethane adhesive stand up to the high deployment pressure of airbags? The best available manufacturer equivalent urethane adhesive should be used, not butyl tape. Ask for adhesive made by Dow, Sika or the original car maker's adhesive supplier.
- How long does the urethane adhesive need to set until the vehicle can be driven? Every urethane has a "safe drive-away time."
Glass Doctor voluntarily supports the standard glass replacement procedures approved by AGRSS, and Glass Doctor shops offer original equipment manufacturer (OEM) windshields. Only OEM glass can provide the quality necessary to ensure a proper fit, which greatly reduces the safety risks.
For more information, visit www.glassdoctor.com.
This spring will be remembered as one of the wettest seasons on record. In addition to tornado damage, water-damaged vehicles may be flooding car lots, says a report by Arkansas' KTHV.
The Arkansas Attorney General's office is issuing a consumer alert on how to avoid car scams.
"Most of these cars will go onto be sold. A relatively small percentage will actually be junked," says Deputy Attorney General Jim DePriest.
for rest of the story, including video and photos go HERE
The Obama administration considered studying the idea of imposing a tax on vehicle miles driven to raise road repair money, but backed away from the concept Thursday when it was leaked.
The idea was included with a series of new proposed auto safety measures. Congress is considering a six-year reauthorization of the highway bill, a measure that often includes significant auto safety and policy changes.
to read full article go to the Detroit News HERE