Sen. Speier Applauds Lawsuit Against Caliber Collision Center

December 10, 2003

State Senator Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo cos.) applauded State Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan for filing a $50 million fraud lawsuit against Caliber Collision Center, the state’s largest chain of auto body shops.

Speier authored the 2000 law (SB 1988) that required the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) to inspect repaired vehicles for auto body fraud. The BAR reported last month that 42 percent of the vehicles it has inspected were subject to fraudulent repairs. Speier also authored SB 1648 in 2002 which would have prevented insurers from owning auto body shops. Caliber, which is partially owned by insurers, was a major opponent of SB 1648 which failed passage. Last year Senator Speier, as chair of the Senate Insurance Committee, held investigative hearings regarding why certain insurers were refusing to provide the BAR and the Attorney General with invoices from Caliber shops.

Speier stated, ” This $50 million consumer protection lawsuit will help uncover the facts for California consumers. I applaud the actions of the Attorney General Lockyer and District Attorney Egan.”

Caliber Collision Center responded to the lawsuit with a press release posted on their Web site:

The anti-business bureaucrats in the Bureau of Automotive Repair (“BAR”) are at it again. This 17200 shakedown suit is based on the same unfounded allegations that BAR has unfairly trumpeted to the media over the last year.There is not a single new allegation, and the lawyers filing today’s case have not independently investigated BAR’s actions. Caliber has not – and does not – commit fraud.

Caliber is proud of its track record of quality collision repair. Caliber’s repair work is backed by a lifetime warranty. Caliber has one of the highest consumer satisfaction scores in the industry, and receives few customer complaints. Remarkably, BAR’s sensationalist allegations are based on neither consumer nor insurer complaints. Instead, this is a desperate political attempt to justify a $112 million budget which funds the enforcement of outdated regulations that are inconsistent with industry best practices.

The facts will show that BAR is retaliating against Caliber for the two lawsuits that Caliber successfully filed against BAR earlier this year and for Caliber’s refusal to accept BAR’s baseless accusations and unfair treatment of small businesses in California.

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