Saturday, 31 May 2003 17:00

Caliber drops lawsuit

Caliber Collision has dropped its lawsuit against the Bureau of Automotive Repair (see Autobody News February 2003) that it filed in January over postings of Notices of Violation (NOV) on the BAR website. Matthew Ohrnstein, CEO of Caliber Collision, told the Collision Industry Conference in April that Caliber has dropped the lawsuit they had filed against the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).

The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in January, asked the court to compel the BAR to stop engaging in a regulatory practice that is "unlawful" and denies Caliber and other businesses their constitutional rights to due process. The BAR issued NOVs for any number of reasons, including technical or administrative violations, or mistakes that were attributable to bona fide human error. All NOVs were posted on the Bureau's website as "confirmed violations." Caliber contended that the auto repair facilities were never given an opportunity to explain or contest the alleged violations.

In his announcement at CIC, Ohrnstein said the main reason Caliber filed suit was to address the publication of the NOVs. Since the BAR had ceased issuing NOVs - BAR actually halted issuing NOVs in December, before the Caliber lawsuit according to a BAR press release - and later removed them from the web site, and since the lawyers who filed the lawsuits, the Trevor Law Group of Beverly Hills, have been the subject of a complaint by the California Attorney General and an investigation by the California State Bar, the lawsuit served no further purpose, Ohrnstein concluded.

Out of the frying pan and into...

Not everyone thinks that the cessation of the NOVs is a real good thing. A concern expressed by CAA Executive Director David McClune is that NOV's, which carried no financial penalties, but merely served as a warning, may be replaced by actual fines. "We talked to the BAR about this last year, and we felt like the NOV system was working," said McClune. "There was no fine, and the shop was made aware of potential problems." While acknowledging that CAA did not favor posting NOVs on the Internet, McClune stated, "We didn't want to do away with it (the NOV system). Now we could be looking at going to a system where shops are fined rather than warned."