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Local body shop sees increase in work from 'direct repair shops'

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BATON ROUGE- Some local body shops are beginning to see an old problem crop up again, and it could put you at risk.
     
The State Attorney General sued over this very issue two years ago, and it appears the problem is still out there. It involves insurance companies sending you to body shops to have your car repaired if you're in a crash. Two years ago, the state claimed in its lawsuit that much of the work that was being done was substandard.

At his body shop, Chris Medine can clearly see the problems plaguing the owner of a car he's repairing.  It's been repaired before, but not to manufacturer standards. That's why he's got the car, and is tasked with trying to fix another shop's mess. The driver of the car went to a body shop she was referred to by her insurance company, Progressive. Once the car was fixed, Medine said the driver's problems cropped up. She then took the car to Medine's Collision Center. When Chris Medine dismantled the entire back end of the car, he uncovered it wasn't fixed right.  He's int he process of re-repairing the repair.

"A lot of this stuff is covered up," Medine said. "You don't even know there's anything wrong with your vehicle. If it looks good and drives okay, you don't really know you're driving around in an unsafe vehicle."

In 2014, Buddy Caldwell sued State Farm for unsafe auto repair practices. It was something he was very passionate about.  It's unclear if the new Attorney General, Jeff Landry, will pursue something Caldwell was spearheading.

"I hope he continues it to make sure the consumer is protected," Medine said. "That's what the Attorney General is supposed to do to protect your consumers from unscrupulous shops and insurances companies only looking out for their bottom line."

Every three seconds a driver is involved in a crash on a Louisiana road. That's why the fix it job needs to be done correctly. But, with the issues continuing to show up, Medine urges you to have your work checked especially if you had it completed at a body shop referred to by your insurance company.

This month, the Attorney General's Office amended its lawsuit against State Farm. The AG's Office released this statement, "All cases and contracts begun in the previous administration are under review to ensure the Department of Justice upholds the rule of law, adheres to the Constitution, and protects the rights of our state and its citizens."

State Farm Spokesman Justin Tomczak released the following statement, "State Farm was pleased last month to receive a signed judgment granting State Farm's exception of no cause of action - basically dismissing this lawsuit. Just prior to departing office, the former Attorney General filed an amended petition. State Farm will respond to that amended petition consistent with our belief that these allegations are without merit."

The case is pending in court.

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