Missouri Collision Shop Sues for $10 Million in ‘Steering’ Lawsuit

In Collision Company v. State Farm, Brad Buck seeks $10 million from the auto insurance company for allegedly aggressively steering business away from his Kirksville, Miss., collision repair shop.

The lawsuit also names the Missouri director of insurance and three State Farm agents as defendants.

The lawsuit alleges that between March 2012 and August 2019, The Collision Company LLC provided repair services to customers insured by State Farm. The complaint alleges that beginning in November 2018 and between Jan. 1- May 1, 2019, three named State Farm agents “engaged in an ongoing, concerted and intentional course of action and conduct” to “improperly and illegally control and depress automobile damage repair costs to the detriment” of the repair company.

The lawsuit alleges that one method used by the three State Farm agents was to exclude The Collision Co. from membership in State Farm’s direct repair program, keeping it from receiving business referrals from the insurance carrier. “As such, Defendants had no control over the labor rates, part profit margins, storage fees and/or any other fees,” reads the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that the insurance agents informed customers that they would have out-of-pocket expenses if they chose to have their vehicles repaired by The Collision Co. This information caused several insured customers to remove their cars from the repair shop despite having already signed a contract for repair services.

The suit alleges the insurance agents also began a system of delaying approval for repairs so customer vehicles were at the repair shop for such a length of time that the agents “would then represent to insureds and/or claimants that taking their motor vehicle to [The Collision Co.] would result in them being without their vehicle for a longer time than they would if their vehicle was taken” to one of State Farm’s direct repair program members.

The repair shop owner also alleges that State Farm would delay claims by requiring aftermarket or imitation parts during the repair process.

As a result of the State Farm agents’ tactics, The Collision Co. says it saw an approximate 40% decrease in business during this time, the lawsuit states.

Court documents state that Buck seeks compensation for all non-payment and underpayment for work completed, compensation for lost revenue through the artificial suppression of labor rates, damages to compensate for lost business and damages sufficient to punish the defendants “for their intentional acts and deter each Defendant and similar entities from pursuing this improper conduct in the future.”

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