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Friday, 23 May 2014 19:29

South Carolina Shop Files Suit Against State Farm Citing Breaches of Contract and Defamation

David and Susan Montanaro, the owners of Coastal Collision Works at 2543 Savannah Highway in Charleston, SC, filed suit on March 6, 2014, against State Farm in the South Carolina Court of Common Pleas for defamation, unfair trade practices, breach of contract with their insureds, and breach of agreement with Coastal Collision. Becky Snelgrove and Steve Fields are named in the suit as State Farm representatives.

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Coastal Collision Works accuses State Farm of engaging in a course of action to artificially depress the price for the repair of damaged automobiles in the Charleston, SC, area. In addition it accuses State Farm of:

  • Attempting to persuade Coastal Collision Works and other Charleston body shops to agree to repair automobiles for an amount less than they ordinarily charge in exchange for prompt adjustment of losses; for referral of business; and for being listed by State Farm as a “preferred” shop.
  • Attempting to persuade Coastal Collision Works and other Charleston body shops to repair automobiles on the basis of the State Farm estimate of damage instead of performing an independent evaluation of damage.
  • Attempting to persuade Coastal Collision Works and other Charleston body shops to not use new parts but to substitute parts of an inferior quality; to repair instead of replace parts requiring replacement; and to ignore damages that might not be recognizable by the customer.
  • Arbitrarily refusing to pay reasonable costs associated with needed repairs.
  • Refusing to pay the fair market price of parts, insisting that any body shop doing State Farm repairs order from a specific parts supplier and then refusing to reimburse the body shops for the extra time involved in ordering parts from the specified parts supplier.
  • Refusing to pay for certain repairs and operations necessary in the repair of damaged vehicles.

In addition, the shop says State Farm falsely accused the owners of charging noncompetitive prices and of performing work not reasonably necessary for a proper repair, which has damaged the shop’s reputation and caused it monetary damages.

According to the plaintiffs, State Farm violated the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act by steering customers to competitors, citing the State Farm Select Service Program.

The plaintiffs have requested triple damages from the court.

A State Farm spokesman had not responded to a request for comment at press time.

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