Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
Several car dealerships have filed an antitrust class action against four Japanese automobile parts suppliers for allegedly rigging bids for lighting equipment sold to major car companies.
Mitsuba Corp., Koito Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Ichikoh Industries Ltd. and Stanley Electric Co. are being sued in the class action of Martens Cars of Washington Inc. et al. v. Koito Manufacturing Co. Ltd. et al., which the plaintiff car dealers filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
In one of the world’s largest antitrust price-fixing actions, a group of auto parts manufacturers continues to face claims of bid rigging and price fixing in a multidistrict litigation (“MDL”) following a Michigan federal judge’s refusal to dismiss federal antitrust claims.
Direct and indirect purchasers in the putative class action of In re Automotive Parts Antitrust Litigation accuse the manufacturers of conspiring to fix the prices of wire harness systems in automobiles. The allegations track a U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) investigation into the auto industry, which has already resulted in guilty pleas involving the manipulation of wire harness pricing during secret meetings.
Wisconsin is notorious among automobile, motorcycle, truck, and recreational vehicle manufacturers as having the worst lemon law in the country. The law places unreasonable and unworkable requirements on OEMs that allows lawyers like self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King,” Vince Megna, to win exorbitant awards that have no apparent relationship to the underlying goals of the law. For example, in Marquez v. Mercedes-Benz, a vehicle that cost $56,000 resulted in a $618,000 award, with over $300,000 in attorney fees.
Wisconsin is the only state in the nation to provide for mandatory double damages under its unique lemon law. Under Wisconsin law, if the manufacturer fails to provide a comparable vehicle or refund for a “lemon” within 30 days of the vehicle owner’s request, the the courts are required to award him or her double any pecuniary loss, together with costs, disbursements and reasonable attorney fees. The courts have interpreted “pecuniary” loss to include the vehicle’s purchase price.
Assembly Bill 200, currently in front of the legislature, would repeal the nondiscretionary double-damage requirement, but the fundamental obligation that a manufacturer provide a comparable vehicle or refund remains unchanged. The law will still allow a consumer to bring an action to recover any pecuniary loss (including the cost of the vehicle), along with costs, disbursements and reasonable attorney fees, and any equitable relief the court determines appropriate, if the manufacturer fails to provide the vehicle or refund within the specified deadline. Thus, manufacturers still have every incentive to provide a timely refund or vehicle, but lawyers will have less incentive to delay resolution of the dispute.
Mercedes-Benz USA LLC has paid out another $260,000 in a long-running lemon law case. Attorney Vince Megna (known locally and self-identified as the ‘Lemon Law King’) sued the company in 2005 on behalf of a Waukesha businessman who purchased what was deemed a defective E-series sedan. The state Supreme Court last year upheld a $482,000 judgment against the company. Megna argued the company owed interest that had accrued during the case’s court journey and Mercedes-Benz paid $618,000.
A Waukesha County judge has now ordered the company to pay attorney fees and costs totaling $259,536. MB-USA cut a check dated the same day.
According to court documents, Marquez purchased a $56,000 E320 from a Milwaukee dealership in April 2005. Almost immediately, the car wouldn’t start and a number of repair attempts failed. In October 2005, Marquez had Megna send Mercedes-Benz a lemon law notice, demanding a refund. Under the law, the company had 30 days to comply. Marquez and the company spent most of those 30 days discussing a replacement vehicle in lieu of a refund. Ultimately, Marquez said he wanted a refund five days before the compliance window closed.
Insurers and auto body shops were deluged Monday, July 21, with phone calls as hundreds of Rapid City residents reported damage that occurred in Saturday's fierce hail storm.
"Before 10 o'clock, we had more than 500 total claims," State Farm Agent Matt McCormick said while catching his breath Monday. "We're likely to set up a temporary claims facility to direct people to for minor damage."
read full story HERE
People in several Summit County, OH, communities were victims of massive flooding, including some body shop employees, as of July 12.
Using a boat was the only way Chris Gnap could get to the body shop where he works in Norton, OH.
“I had to drive through two feet of water to even get close to here, so I went and got my boat and brought it down,” Gnap said.
Gnap and the owner of Norman and Sons Body Shop, 3053 Barber Rd, in Norton, say at least two and a half feet of water was inside when the flooding occurred on July 10.
“There’s probably an inch of mud inside, worms everywhere,” Gnap said.
Part of Barber Road near the shop at Interstate 76 was closed because water still covers the road.
But that did not stop some drivers from chancing it, plowing through the high water to get to the other side.
In neighboring Barberton, many residential streets are still impassable and some homes are still filled with water, even where the flood itself has receded, as of July 12.
Michigan Washtenaw County Judge Archie Brown has set the trial dates for a married couple accused of embezzling about $250,000 from A2 Auto Glass, according to a courthouse official.
The jury trial date for Oral and Janice Molden is scheduled for November 4, with the pre-trial hearing scheduled October 9.
Charges against the couple were first brought in 2011, with new counts filed in December 2012, according to local reports.
The couple is accused of embezzling the money from the auto glass company over a three-year period. Janice Molden, 45, was a bookkeeper for the company and Oral Molden, 47, did computer work there.
Oral Molden is charged with false pretenses of more than $20,000, false pretenses of between $999 and $20,000, making or permitting a false tax return and malicious use of a telecommunications service.
Janice Molden faces charges of embezzling $100,000 or more, embezzling $25,000 or more, as well as embezzling more than $999 but less than $20,000. She is also charged with three counts of using a computer to commit a crime.
A2 Auto Glass has locations in Ann Arbor and Jackson, MI, as well as a mobile service. A customer service representative who answered the phone at the glass company declined to comment on the situation.
Back in 1983, Tom Tylka and his business partner Ed opened a body shop in Schererville, IN, and 30 years later, Tom & Ed’s Autobody is still successful, although without the “Ed.” Ed left the business after only a year, but Tom, now 63, kept the name the same, and he and his wife Debbie Tylka became the sole owners.
“Ed only lasted a year, but I left his name on the business so he could see what he would be missing,” Tom joked. “The name was on our logo and all the letterhead and paperwork and I didn’t want to change it.”
Three decades ago, Tom left a job in the welding and engineering industry to open his own business. What started out as a hobby tinkering and restoring old MGs and Jaguars grew into his dream.
“I always wanted to own my own business,” he said. “That was my goal in life. We started out with $2,500 and 2,500 square feet.”
A Shelby, OH, shop owner who restored classic cars was sentenced June 10 in a Richland County courtroom to four years in prison for scamming numerous customers across the country.
Keith Shellhouse also was ordered to pay over $180,000 in restitution to his victims.
The owner of Pro Restorations by Independent Autobody Plus, in Shelby, was convicted earlier this year of aggravated theft, theft of a motor vehicle, falsification and tampering with records.
In Dover, OH, a kitten trapped near a car engine ended up in the right place—at a body shop where the county’s humane society president works.
Rhonda Rosenberry is the office manager at Paul’s Auto Body Shop and is also the president of the Tuscarawas County Humane Society.
The operation to save the kitten was a lengthy ordeal that started when Paul’s Auto Body Shop in Dover was presented with the challenge of finding the source of a strange noise.