Farmers Sues L.A. Body Shop for Alleged Fraud

September 2, 2004

Farmers Insurance Exchange has begun serving civil summons and complaints upon a Los Angeles body shop and its director, accusing them of taking part in a scheme designed to defraud Farmers and its policyholders. The civil complaint, which is similar to prior successful lawsuits against body shops that submitted false insurance claims, seeks damages for the fraud committed.

The lawsuit details a systematic scheme where the body shop billed Farmers for services that were never performed. This includes billing for parts and labor that were never provided. Once Farmers suspected fraud, it immediately inspected the cars involved and exposed physical evidence of fraud.

“When faced with concrete evidence that someone has tried to defraud Farmers and its policyholders, Farmers faces a choice: Do nothing or take action against such unscrupulous individuals. Farmers will not sit idly by and allow profiteers to succeed with their schemes,” said Doug Ashbridge, Director of Special Investigations. “We want the word to get out that Farmers will fight insurance fraud no matter what form it takes. Farmers will work with law enforcement, as well as institute its own civil actions in hopes of deterring these individuals, and anyone else who is contemplating submitting fraudulent insurance claims. It is our commitment to our policyholders to take fraud out of their premium dollars.”

Farmers’ Special Investigations Unit, which includes body shop experts, inspected 10 vehicles repaired by Bracha Inc., DBA Best of the West Carstar Auto Body and DBA Exclusive Collision Center, and documented fraud in the repair invoice for each vehicle. Farmers is seeking over $250,000 in statutory damages for the intentional actions of the defendants.

Ashbridge went on to state: “Farmers has developed a statewide team that is designed to detect precisely this type of fraudulent activity. Our investigators’ efforts and expertise exposed the fraud being perpetrated here and developed the physical evidence of fraud. Lawsuits such as this are part of a nationwide commitment to stem the tide of insurance fraud.”

Farmers is represented by Dennis B. Kass, Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, LLP

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