The parties in the Campfield-Safelite suit have asked the court to reschedule the initial expert disclosures since the court has not yet ruled on a motion to dismiss. Plaintiff Rich Campfield, founder of Ultra Bond in Grand Junction, Colo., filed a lawsuit in August 2015 alleging misleading advertising by Safelite in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
The suit alleges that Safelite has misleading advertising that favors replacement of windshields rather than repairs of long cracks, which have “wiped out a large portion (if not most) of the market for Ultra Bond’s products and services.” Campfield’s company has offered long-crack repair products and services since 1989.
“[S]afelite falsely tells consumers that their windshield must be replaced when a crack is longer than six inches” alleges the court documents. “This misstatement misleads consumers to replace their damaged windshield which costs many times more than a repair, in addition to the fact that replacement is also demonstrably less structurally safe than repairing a factory installed windshield.”
Campfield’s attorneys cite the Lanham Act, which prohibits any “false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact which . . . in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature characteristics, [or] qualities . . . of . . . goods, services, or commercial activities.”
The original complaint also alleges that Safelite has stated in scripts that long crack repairs could be unsafe and that the company’s glass shops use replacement windshields that are equivalent to original windshields. Safelite’s attorneys contend that this argument does not fall under the Lanham Act.
Defendants Safelite Group, Safelite Solutions and Safelite Fulfillment asked the judge to dismiss the case. in October 2015.
“Plaintiff’s allegations actually have nothing to do with advertising,” according to court documents. “They concern issues like alleged market power, vertical integration and insurance claims administration networks, all of which one might expect to see in an antitrust case. But plaintiffs already brought antitrust claims (over a decade ago) on essentially the same allegations against different parties. These claims were rejected both by a Federal District Court and again by a Court of Appeals. (Campfield vs. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Co.) Plaintiffs’ present attempt to resurrect their claims against Safelite under the guise of the Lanham Act should be rejected as well.”
Campfield’s attorney responded to the motion to dismiss in December 2015.
“Contrary to defendants’ argument, this case is not an antitrust case nor does it mirror plaintiffs’ previous case decided by the Tenth Circuit in 2008. Among other things, the Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard™ (ROLAGS)—which [is] central to the allegations here—did not exist at the time of that case. The ROLAGS show[s] that defendants’ statements that windshield cracks longer than six inches cannot be repaired and are unsafe are false. Tellingly, defendants do not even mention the ROLAGS in their brief.”
Given that the judge has not yet ruled on the motion to dismiss, the parties ask the court to postpone the deadlines regarding expert witnesses.
“Until that motion [to dismiss] is decided, the parties do not believe it is in their interests to incur the time and expense associated with retaining and disclosing experts,” according to the joint filing.
They propose the following schedule:
- Plaintiffs’ statistical or market survey expert disclosures must be made within 45 days after the court’s decision on the pending motion to dismiss;
- Defendants’ statistical or market survey expert disclosures must be made within 45 days after the plaintiffs have made their statistical or market survey expert disclosures;
- Plaintiffs’ other expert disclosures must be made within 60 days after plaintiffs’ statistical or market survey expert disclosure deadline; and,
- Defendants’ other expert disclosures must be made within 60 days after defendants’ statistical or market survey expert disclosure deadline.
To read a copy of Campfield’s complaint, click here.
To read Safelite’s motion to dismiss, click here.
To read Campfield’s response to the motion to dismiss, click here.
To read the latest filing asking the court to reschedule expert disclosures, click here.
Stay tuned to glassBYTEs.com™ for more on this case as it develops.