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1HomePageMap small ne 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine

Mark Schaech, co-owner of Mark’s Body Shop of Baltimore, filed the suit against GEICO due to the insurer's refusal to pay $392.95 in repair costs on behalf of its policyholder. The underpayments included: degreasing vehicle prior to repair; feather, prime and block repaired panels; clean vehicle for delivery; clear OBD fault codes; reset electronics (recorded settings); mask for primer; and overhaul door handle for refinishing.

“We offer exceptional quality and service to our customers, and to continue to do so without being properly compensated is simply unreasonable and unsustainable," said Schaech. "While my father (partner) and I would rather avoid having to take such legal actions, something had to be done as the insurer’s efforts to underpay our customers continued to increase. I felt like that guy in the movie Network where he stuck his head out the window and yelled, 'I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking this anymore!'

“While Maryland does not allow the recovery of legal fees to the prevailing parties in such issues, we couldn’t allow that to be a deterrent in our being able to properly serve our customers and our employees. Insurers have continued cutting their costs while our costs for labor, materials and overhead have steadily increased. The only way we could survive was to either concede to the underpayments and cut our quality of materials and labor…or push back. We found short-pay litigation necessary to stop the insurer’s practice of underpaying our customers and to enable us to provide the quality repairs that earn our customers (and their referrals) for life."

Schaech credited a free legal seminar in Florida hosted by Barrett Smith of Auto Damage Experts, Ray Gunder of Gunder's Auto Center and Gunder's attorney, Brent Geohagan, with motivating him and giving him the information he needed to take action.

"That was a turning point for us. To hear Ray talk about how he knew that if he hadn’t done something he would be out of business struck a chord in me, and I knew then that I, too, needed to do something or we would lose our business," Schaech said. "Ray gave much credit to his success in having a great support team in Barrett as his consultant and Brent as his legal counsel.”

For at least two months, Manor Township, PA, supervisors have considered a local body shop a special exemption to its stormwater ordinance, but now “Steve’s Auto Body and Repair” owner Steve Slater faces daily fines if he does not comply within 30 days.

A principal owner of a Rossville, NY, collision shop and her company have anted up $250,000 in restitution on a tax-fraud case, said prosecutors.

But that's just a drop in the bucket compared to an additional $591,000 in civil fines and interest that Frances Dellegrazie and Double Dee's Chariot Auto Body, 950 Bloomingdale Rd., New York, may have to fork over, prosecutors said.

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A Connecticut bill designed to extend a ban on steering by third-party administrators and auto damage appraisers to specific repair shops, which includes auto glass repair, has been signed into law by Gov. Dannel O’Malley.

House Bill (HB) 5072 “requires initial communications between a glass claims representative or a third-party claims administrator of an insurance company doing business in Connecticut and the company’s insured about automotive glass works or products to inform the insured about his or her right to choose where to have the work done.”

Additionally, “The bill bars insurance companies or their representatives from steering an insured to a licensed glass shop owned by the company, claims administrator or their parent company, unless they provide the insured with the name of at least one other shop in the area where the glass work is to be performed,” according to a summary of the bill from the Connecticut government website. The bill passed the House on May 7 and gained approval from the Senate May 22.

Keenan Auto Body, based in Clifton Heights, PA, recently raised more than $28,000 at its 15th Annual Charity Golf for Little Smiles Philadelphia. The event was held at Penn Oaks Golf Club on June 6.

The driver of a Nissan Maxima recently flew into a Manhasset, NY, body shop “like a rocket” and died.

After speeding and missing a bend in the road and colliding with park benches, garbage pails and other vehicles, the car flew into the Long Island business located on E. Shore Rd. at 8:27 a.m., witnesses said.

Body Works Unlimited owner Michael LaRocca, 45,—who usually opens the shop at that time the crash occurred—arrived late, likely sparing his life, he said.

“It was a close call,” LaRocca told The Post. “I just woke up late.”

When he arrived at work, “It was chaos,” he said. “It looked like a bomb when off in my shop. All of my windows were broken and the car was sticking out of the garage front door.”

Matt Moran, 75, said he saw an airborne car approaching and was afraid it would crash into the front driver’s side. The Maxima hit the rear of his vehicle, he said.

“The driver died. He was flying like 90 miles an hour. He was flying, like a rocket,” he said. Witnesses were afraid to approach the car, thinking it might explode.