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AG sues State Farm over auto parts scheme

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Posted: Aug 19, 2014 10:27 AM by Russell Jones and Chris Nakamoto
Updated: Aug 19, 2014 6:53 PM
Source: WBRZ

  Rating: 5.0 (4 votes)

Topics: consumer safety, auto repair, lawsuit, attorney general, buddy caldwell

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell announced Tuesday that his office filed suit against State Farm Insurance, claiming the company had a deal with auto repair shops to put inferior, cheaper parts in cars they covered.

Caldwell accused State Farm of deceiving its policy holders by getting them to use body shops the insurance company had contracts with. He said those shops then used cheaper, less crash-worthy parts to fix the vehicles, rather than parts from the vehicle's manufacturer, which saved State Farm money. The Attorney General's Office suggests that people get their cars inspected if they were repaired at a direct repair shop.

"We can't give legal advice specifically to individual consumers, but I will say the repair shops who do honest work and make repairs for consumers are knowledgeable about the process and recourse they may have with their insurance company," Stacie Deblieux with the Attorney General's Office said.

Caldwell cited one crash where an aftermarket hood was installed on a vehicle. After another wreck that hood crumpled into the windshield and did not activate the airbag as intended, according to Caldwell.

State Farm spokesperson Phil Supple said they were reviewing the lawsuit's claims.

"The description in this lawsuit is not in line with State Farm's mission to serve the needs of its customers, and our long, proud history of achievements in advancing vehicle safety," he said.

The attorney general also said State Farm wasn't the only insurance company in Louisiana with such deals. He said the suit, which accused State Farm of violating Louisiana's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, seeks to change the industry's practices. He also called for State Farm to pay restitution for its conduct.

Dominica Medine of Medine's Collision said today's lawsuit is good for consumers.

"There are a lot of good shops in Baton Rouge," Medine said. "A lot that do proper repairs...a lot of improper repairs as well."

If you would like to read the lawsuit filed this morning, click here.

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