Monday, 24 March 2014 15:08

Ohio Repairer Three-C Body Shops Pursues Multiple Lawsuits Against State Farm for Short-Pays

Three-C Body Shops is seeking recovery of short-pays, fees, and court costs from State Farm Insurance for the insurer’s repeated underpayments for services generally rendered and charged to their customers when their vehicles have been deemed to be total losses.

Currently, there are approximately 89 active lawsuits between Three-C’s and State Farm that began in November 2012. Generally the suits stem from total-loss billings, whereas Three-C Body Shop is seeking an estimated $296,807.93, of which State Farm has agreed to pay only $31,565.03, leaving an unpaid and contested amount to date of $265,242.90. Similar lawsuits will likely be filed.

Bob Juniper, second generation owner and president of the 58-year-old, family-owned company is no stranger to controversy or to taking on the challenges the collision industry presents. He was one of the first shop owners in the nation to ‘put his money where his mouth is’ by his hard-charging and often controversial local television and radio consumer awareness ads and commercials regarding direct repair programs (DRPs).

Juniper said, “When a vehicle becomes a total loss, we cease normal repair-related activities and change to another mode of operation, and, as such, charges for such activities are assessed that may or may not be consistent with a repair.

Such charges may be processes including but not limited to clean-up from fluid leaks, relocating a disabled vehicle, storage, protection, research, documentation, administrative activities, parts handling, and others. We have closely studied the high cost of handling and processing total loss vehicles.

In the Columbus, OH, area, insurers understand and pay for such charges—all but one, that is. State Farm continues to be ‘the odd-man-out’ in settling such claims fairly.

We must be paid for our efforts and liabilities associated with the handling involved in total losses as such activities are not ‘the cost of doing business.’  We have decided to let the courts decide who is right and who is wrong. Our efforts to work things out with State Farm directly were unsuccessful. I believe the facts will show that the money is owed. We look forward to sharing the results of these cases with the collision repair industry.”

Todd A. Fichtenberg, one of Three-C’s attorneys of the law firm Skinner & Associates, LLC of Columbus, OH, stated: “Ohio lacks the statutory provisions that have made those like Ray Gunder in Florida so successful in the recovery of fees and costs. Without that statutory framework, we are using Ohio’s existing laws and good faith arguments for the extension of those laws in an effort to recover Three-C’s fees and costs”.

Three-C Body shops was founded in 1956 and currently has six locations including two satellite locations (inspection-estimating, drop-off, and delivery), which help feed their four repair production locations in and around the Columbus market area. The company does $10 million-plus in annual sales.