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A California State Senate Bill that would make it illegal for an insurance company to have any financial interest in a body shop passed the Senate on May 29 by a vote of 28 to 7, with support from both Democrats and Republicans. The bill will now go to the State Assembly Insurance Committee for a vote.

Over 100 auto repair shops, including at least six body shops, have been sued as a group in Orange County for violations of the State's Business & Professions Code (which includes violations of B.A.R. regulations). The suit, Consumer Enforcement Watch Corp. v 7 Day Tire, Muffler & Auto, et al. was filed April 11 in Orange County Superior Court, Santa Ana. It alleges that the various defendant repair shops harmed consumers when they violated B.A.R. regulations including failure to renew their registrations on time, writing improper estimates, failing to secure proper approval for estimates, and failing to return parts removed from vehicles.

The California State Assembly Insurance Committee has passed by a bipartisan vote of 12-4 the Senate Bill that would make it illegal for an insurance company to have a financial interest in a body shop. Having earlier passed the full Senate (29-16), the bill will be read and likely voted upon by the full Assembly between August 6 and the end of the month. If passed by the Assembly, it will go to the Governor's desk and could become law on January 1. 

The California State Assembly on August 29 turned down State Senate 1648, a bill that would have prohibited insurance companies from owning bodyshops and forced the Automobile Club to divest its interest in Caliber Collision Centers. This opens the door for more insurance companies to buy or take a financial position in collision repair facilities. Allstate has already announced that it intends to open 17 - 20 Sterling shops in California beginning next year. 

Five major paint manufacturers and seven paint jobbers are named in a class action lawsuit for price-fixing in violation of State antitrust laws filed on August 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The action alleges that the paint companies and jobbers engaged in "horizontal price fixing and minimum resale price maintenance." The lawsuit covers the period from 1993 to the present and asks for class action status on behalf of 7,000 California body shops. It alleges that defendants "conspired to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize prices for automotive refinishing paint." The defendants include paint manufacturers PPG, DuPont, Sherwin-Williams and Akzo Nobel, together with jobbers D'ANgelo & Sons, Tri-City Paint Corporation, Finishmaster, Inc., Auto Color Specialists, Inc., National Oak Distributors, Inc., and Hayward Color, Inc. 

The California salvage industry won what the collision repair industry couldn't; a partial victory in Sacramento with the passage of two bills - and the defeat of a third - that begin to level the playing field between licensed salvage yards and the gray market of automotive rebuilders that bids against them for wrecked vehicles.