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Thursday, 24 April 2014 00:00

Attorneys for Collision Repairers Respond to State Farm’s Request for Dismissal of Antitrust Case

Attorneys for repair shops that filed suit against State Farm and more than a dozen other insurers recently responded to the State Farm request for the U.S. Middle District of Florida Court, Orlando division, to dismiss their antitrust and steering lawsuit, saying that there is “more than sufficient facts asserted to satisfy the pleading requirements.”

The Florida repair shops sued State Farm and dozens of other insurers. To learn more, view the Property and Casualty Insurers Hit With Antitrust Suit by Florida Auto Body Shops article from the April edition of Autobody News.

 

“Plaintiffs allege that defendants imposed maximum price limitations for automobile parts and services, adopted similar reimbursement policies and practices, and attempted to steer customers away from shops that refused to adhere to defendants’ price limitations. The ‘crucial question,’ however, is ‘whether the challenged anticompetitive conduct stem[s] from independent decision or from an agreement, tacit or express,’’ State Farm attorneys write in their response.

“As a general rule, businesses are free to choose the parties with whom they will deal, as well as the prices, terms, and conditions of that dealing,” they claim. “Section 1 of the Sherman Act does not preclude a party from unilaterally determining the parties with whom it will deal and the terms on which it will transact business…At the pleading stage, ‘formulaic recitations of a conspiracy claim’ are insufficient, and ‘a conclusory allegation of agreement at some unidentified point does not supply facts adequate to show illegality.’…The complaint fails utterly to meet the standards set by the Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit for pleading conspiracy.”

In response, the repair shops’ attorneys argue that the claims in their complaint are valid.

“Defendant State Farm’s motion rests primarily upon the incorrect assertion the complaint fails to set forth sufficient facts to satisfy the pleading requirements,” attorneys write. “Repeatedly and throughout the motion, defendant State Farm misrepresents both the contents of the complaint and quite often the holdings of authority to which it cites. When the correct legal standards are applied, a straightforward reading of the complaint establishes there is more than sufficient facts asserted to satisfy the pleading requirements.”

“Defendant State Farm’s numerous misrepresentation of fact and law do not alter this. The motion to dismiss is without any merit, legal or factual. The plaintiffs respectfully submit it should be denied in its entirety,” attorneys claim.

The repair shops’ attorneys also responded to Geico’s request for dismissal, writing, “[Ge]ico’s motion rests primarily upon the incorrect assertion that the complaint fails to set forth sufficient facts to satisfy the pleading requirements. Repeatedly and throughout the motion, defendant Geico misrepresents both the contents of the complaint as well as citations to authority, holdings of the cited courts, and the procedural posture of those cases. When the correct legal standards are applied, a straightforward reading of the complaint establishes there is more than sufficient facts asserted to satisfy the pleading requirements.”

The judge had not issued any decisions at press time.

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