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SCRS: New SEMA session features attorney in $42M Texas body shop verdict

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Announcements | Associations | Business Practices | Education | Legal | Repair Operations

The Society of Collision Repair Specialists on Monday announced a new SEMA Repairer Driven Education session featuring the attorney who successfully sued a Texas auto body shop for deviating from OEM repair procedures.

“The Anatomy of a Lawsuit: The Crucial Details of the $42 Million Verdict” on Wednesday, Nov. 1, will feature Tracy Law Firm attorney Todd Tracy, who represented Matthew and Marcia Seebachan in their lawsuit against John Eagle Collision Center.

Since the course was added late, SCRS is only charging $25. The session is also automatically included as part of the all-access series pass package.

“If you are in the collision repair industry, there is perhaps no bigger news story right now than the verdict … when a Texas jury found a Dallas-based collision repair center liable for incorrect repairs that led to increased severity in the crash of a 2010 Honda Fit,” SCRS wrote in a news release.

The Dallas-based auto body shop was found responsible for 75 percent of the couple’s ordeal and the $42 million verdict the jury handed down Monday, for a total of $31.5 million in damages. The Dallas County jury attributed the other 25 percent of the blame to the other driver, according to notes taken by Tracy Law Firm spokesman Robert Riggs breaking down the verdict.

The Seebachans were traveling in the Fit on a 75 mph stretch of road in 2013 when a 2010 Toyota Tundra in the other lane hydroplaned into their path, leading to the Fit striking the right front quarter of the Tundra in a T-bone collision.

Experts for the plaintiffs said in court documents that the severity of the crash and the Seebachans’ injuries were the result of the body shop adhesive-bonding the Fit’s roof during a $8,500 hail repair in 2012 for the prior owner, a State Farm policyholder.

Honda OEM repair procedures demand a shop tack-weld the front and rear corner edges of the new roof and then perform a combination of two- and three-plate spot welds and MIG plug welds.

Body shop director Boyce Willis in a deposition agreed the facility bonded the roof despite little concrete evidence or engineering knowledge to support the decision — particularly as 3M and Honda instructions state otherwise. (In fact, Willis insisted he knew using the 8115 panel bonding adhesive was a better repair, as did the defense during the trial.)

The Dallas-based auto body shop was found responsible for 75 percent of the couple’s ordeal and the $42 million verdict the jury handed down Monday, for a total of $31.5 million in damages. The Dallas County jury attributed the other 25 percent of the blame to the other driver, according to notes taken by Tracy Law Firm spokesman Robert Riggs breaking down the verdict.

The jury thought OEM procedures were “absolutely paramount,” particularly given the shop’s recognition by I-CAR, which demands shops follow OEM procedures, Tracy said in an interview after the verdict.

“They found that that was absolutely critical,” Tracy said.

John Eagle and Tracy have “agreed to work together today to improve safety standards in the nation’s collision repair industry,” both parties later announced.

“Mr. Tracy acknowledged that despite Mr. Eagle’s sincere desire to settle the claim, his insurance carriers elected to proceed with the trial,” Eagle and Tracy Law Firm wrote.

Eagle has pledged to “encourage the collision repair industry across the nation to follow OEM bulletins instead of insurance companies’ mandates when they repair vehicles,” according to the news release.

SCRS said the Seebachan v. John Eagle Collision case was “likely to have rippling impacts across the collision repair landscape, and are critical for collision businesses performing repairs to understand and take heed of.”

According to SCRS, Tracy’s presentation of the case can:

  • Help collision repair businesses avoid their own “$42 million dollar verdict.”
  • Help clarify the facts that led a jury to conclude that OEM procedures were paramount.
  • Define how business decisions made in the course of repair can have dramatic effect on both the repair outcome and ultimate responsibility. 

“Anatomy of a Lawsuit” will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Nov. 1 in Ballrooms D-E of the Westgate Las Vegas, located right next to main SEMA venue Las Vegas Convention Center. Sign up for the class here or simply buy the series pass, which is good for admission into any Repairer Driven Education session, the OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit and the Sky Villa After Party.

OEM Summit

Tracy will return for Session 3 of the OEM Summit, which will address the topic of shop liability. “The Hidden Dangers of Vehicle Technology, Improper Repair Methodology and Your Liabilities,” is “perhaps one of the most critical conversations collision repair facilities should be paying attention to,” SCRS has noted.

The session runs from 3-5 p.m. Nov. 2 and will also feature Vehicle Information Services collision repair attorney Erica Eversman, Audi collision programs Director Mark Allen, and Aaron Clark (Assured Performance), whose former shop Collision Solutions was the target of a lawsuit. It will be moderated by Ellis & Associates Managing Director John Ellis.

According to SCRS, the panel discussion will examine:

  • An industry that is grappling with following manufacturer repair procedure requirements that are expected to be performed on every occasion.
  • Insurance claims positioning that leans towards “case-by-case” approval.
  • The implication of business decisions that can directly impact repair facility liability.

More information:

“BREAKING NEWS: Two Events at the SEMA Show to Learn More About the $42 Million Verdict from Texas”

Society of Collision Repair Specialists, Oct. 16, 2017

“SCRS Announces OEM Summit Panelists at SEMA”

Society of Collision Repair Specialists, Sept. 25, 2017

 

SCRS Repairer Driven Education

Images:

Tracy Law Firm attorney Todd Tracy (Greg Folkins photo; provided by Tracy Law Firm)

“The Hidden Dangers of Vehicle Technology, Improper Repair Methodology and Your Liabilities” during the 2017 SCRS OEM Collision Repair Technology Summit features, from left, Ellis & Associates Managing Director John Ellis, the moderator; Tracy Law Firm attorney Todd Tracy; Vehicle Information Services collision repair attorney Erica Eversman, Audi collision programs Director Mark Allen; and Aaron Clark (Assured Performance), whose former shop Collision Solutions was the target of a lawsuit. (Provided by Society of Collision Repair Specialists)