Marc Anderson, executive director of the Independent Glass Association (IGA) headquartered in Hopkins, Minn., issued the following statement in response to the Safelite press release, which appeared on glassBYTES last week:

IGA Responds to Safelite Press Release

It's a little frustrating to have the only lawsuit ever which is on track to derail steering, and see from the postings on the message boards that some people have chosen to believe Safelite's spin that we 'have already lost' instead of our explanation. Here, we were thinking we've already won.

Here is the most important thing you need to know. We could have filed only the one claim where we have consumers who were steered and who represent all consumers. Had we done that, no claims would have been dismissed. Our victory would be perfectly clear. We decided, instead, to attack steering several different ways and it is those other claims that were dismissed. That in no way diminishes the viability of this as an anti steering lawsuit.

Safelite's piece on GlassBYTEs last Thursday was misleading.

For example, they said, "We are pleased all allegations by the IGA have been soundly rejected by the Court." This implies that the allegations were found to be untrue. The court ruled only that the IGA did not have technical legal "standing" to assert the allegations, even if they were true. The IGA alleged that Safelite is lying to consumers when it tells them that the glass shops on "The List" might force customers to pay out-of-pocket if the insurance company does not pay the glass shop's invoice in full. The court did not "reject" those allegations; it only found that the IGA was not the proper party to make them. The court did this because some IGA members do, in fact, attempt to bill their customers for insurance company short pays. Therefore, only the affected glass shops can complain, not the IGA in general.

Safelite said, "We are pleased the bulk of this case has been thrown out at this early stage of the litigation."

This is misleading because it implies that we are left without the ability to get most, or the bulk, of the relief we seek. We are attempting to get an injunction against Safelite to prevent it from lying about the business practices of IGA members. This was "the bulk" of our case and this has not been "thrown out." Moreover, the quoted sentence implies that the claims that were "thrown out" were thrown out on their merits rather than because the IGA lacks technical "standing."

"It is unfortunate the IGA refused Safelite's suggestion that the parties work together collaboratively to resolve their concerns prior to the suit being filed."

This sentence is flat-out false. It was the IGA that first requested cooperation when it created "The List.". At that time, the IGA attempted to establish a regime under which the IGA could inform Safelite about which glass shops do and which glass shops do not bill back short pays so that Safelite could stop negligently but purposely misleading consumers. Safelite stubbornly refused all our attempts to negotiate about this. Only when Safelite was told that the lawsuit was irretrievably and physically on its way to being filed did Safelite try to suggest cooperation.

But even then we said they could ignore the filing, delay answering, and simply negotiate anyway. Safelite refused, showing they weren't sincere.

"We firmly believe the auto glass industry would be better served by focusing its time, energy and resources on the quality, service, and value it provides to consumers."

If you are a glass shop, then you are aware of Safelite's practices and you can fully appreciate how insulting this remark really is.

We should add that Safelite never denied the factual claims made against it. That is, Safelite never denied that it "steered" our consumer plaintiff by lying to him. And the judge did not dismiss the consumer's claims about that for himself and all other similarly situated consumers.

As well, Safelite never denied that it is adjusting glass claims in Minnesota and many other states without a required insurance adjusters license (a license which would give state regulators authority to control some of Safelite's worst practices). Again, it was only that the IGA was not the proper party to enforce the law about this that caused the court to dismiss these IGA claims.

Safelite did not deny that it was violating the law nor did the court find that Safelite was complying with the law - the court only found that the IGA was not the proper party to enforce the violation.

To use a football analogy, Safelite has too many players on the field and everyone in the stands can see that. Safelite is bragging now only because no referee has made the proper call yet. But Safelite has broken the rules and the game is not over.

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