Thursday, 26 August 2010 11:14

'Open Letter' Leads to Lawsuit Involving Aftermarket Carriers

NSF Files Suit Against CAPA
NSF International has filed suit against the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) and CAPA Executive Director Jack Gillis.

NSF says its suit is in response to an “Open Letter” that Gillis, in his capacity as CAPA’s Executive Director, circulated to members of the Automotive Body Parts Association on July 28, 2010. Attorneys for NSF demanding a public retraction from what they claimed were misstatements of fact and out and out distortions of NSF’s position in relationship to the automotive aftermarket and its certification programs.

In February this year NSF International announced the launch of its new Automotive Parts Certification Program to address concerns regarding consumer safety and compromised automobile crashworthiness from the use of untested aftermarket structural parts. The NSF Automotive Parts Certification Program said it offers independent, third-party certification of steel bumpers, step bumpers, absorbers, reinforcement bars and brackets, and that certification has never previously been available for these aftermarket bumper system components.

NSF said at the time that the program offered by the Certified Automotive Parts Association (CAPA) currently certified plastic bumper covers and facias but not reinforcement beams, brackets, or energy absorbers, and that CAPA currently certified just one of the five categories of parts identified by the Auto Body Parts Association (ABPA) as a structural part: radiator core supports.


Not long afterward, CAPA announced that its own structural parts certification program was also in development, and that the organization had been testing bumpers since last year. ABPA let it be known in April of this year that it was reviewing the NSF program with a view to other OE equivalent certification options because of shortcomings in the CAPA program.

Gillis’ letter was addressed to Charlie Hogarty, Chairman of the Auto Body Parts Association and his Canadian counterpart, Delores Richardson. It essentially took ABPA to task for participating in NSF’s new certification program that has “unknown standards.” Hogarty responded to Gillis in his own open letter on August 2. The full text of both letters can be read at www.autobodynews.com.

The NSF suit seeks an injunction and damages for false and misleading statements about NSF’s Automotive Aftermarket Parts Certification Program and other NSF programs, qualifications and abilities.

NSF says Gillis’ statements were made in an apparent attempt to harm NSF and NSF’s 65-year stellar reputation for protecting the public health and welfare, and to improperly imply that CAPA is superior to NSF in connection to automobile part verification/certification.

NSF says Gillis declined an opportunity to retract his letter and correct the record. NSF International says it has filed this suit to protect its name, 65-year reputation for protecting and improving public health and safety worldwide, and the integrity of the NSF Mark. The NSF suit alleges unfair competition under 11 USC 1125 (a), common law unfair competition, violations of Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act, business defamation and injurious falsehood. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division case no. 10-13309.

NSF launched an industry first, parts certification program for front bumpers, step bumpers, absorbers, rebars and brackets in early 2010, to counter the growing concerns that lower quality parts were being used in the automotive repair industry. NSF’s Automotive Aftermarket Parts Certification Program verifies that aftermarket auto parts meet rigid safety, quality and performance standards through testing and inspections.

CAPA is a direct competitor of NSF in the area of automotive parts certification, and while NSF says it welcomes the competition, the company says it competition must be in compliance with applicable law.

NSF believes that Gillis’ comments regarding NSF’s qualifications and the NSF Automotive Aftermarket Parts Certification program constitute Unfair Competition Under 11 USC 1125 (a).

To read CAPA's July 28 open letter please CLICK HERE.

To read ABPA's August 2 response letter please CLICK HERE.