In an emotional on-stage interview at the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) held in Las Vegas in early November, the Texas couple who successfully sued a dealership body shop over its failure to follow OEM repair procedures talked about the dramatic changes in their lives caused by their substantial injuries in a subsequent accident.
Marcia Seebachan said she remembers nothing from the time of the accident until four days later, on Christmas, when she regained consciousness in the hospital and wasn’t sure whether to believe her parents that her husband, Matthew, had also survived the accident and was just in another hospital.
She said it only added to the couple’s trauma to later learn that their injuries were likely exacerbated by the body shop’s decision – prior to the Seebachan’s purchase of the vehicle – to attach a replacement roof to it using adhesive rather than the welds called for by the automaker.
“This wasn’t just a series of unfortunate events. This was something intentionally chosen to have been done to the vehicle that impacted us,” Marcia Seebachan said. “It’s one thing to be dealing with the most traumatic thing in your life, but to find out there were choices made that increased the likelihood that this happened to you is just re-traumatizing. There was a whole different grieving process that had to happen.”
Two years ago, the Seebachans won a $42 million judgement against the Texas dealership body shop after an accident involving their 2010 Honda Fit. Prior to the Seebachans buying the used vehicle, the shop had attached a replacement roof to the vehicle (after hail damage) using structural adhesive, even though Honda’s repair procedures called for the use of welds. The Seebachans argued successfully in their lawsuit that their injuries in the subsequent accident were more severe because the roof separated and failed to protect them as it would have if Honda’s repair procedures had been followed.
The Seebachans also sued State Farm for its alleged role in the shop’s choice of repair procedures; that lawsuit was settled a year ago without the terms of the settlement being disclosed.