Class Of 1,500 Auto Body Repair Shops Entitled To $20M In Punitives

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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In what is believed to be the largest unfair trade practices award ever issued in Connecticut, a Stamford complex litigation judge has awarded $20 million in punitive damages to a class of auto body repair shops.

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Originally appeared in print as r issued in Connecticut, a Stamford complex litigation judge has awarded $20 million in punitive damages to a class of auto body repair shops. Waterbury Superior Court Judge Alfred J. Jennnings Jr. , in a June 5 opinion, added to the $14.7 million award a jury awarded in November, 2009, when it found the Hartford Fire Insurance Company engaged in a scheme to unfairly decrease the rates it paid for auto body repairs. The Hartford used a group of its pre-approved “direct repair providers” which agreed to accept lower rates for a high volume of work, said plaintiff’s lawyer David Slossbert, of Milford’s Hurwitz, Sagarin Slossberg & Knuff. The Hartford, in turn, would not pay higher rates than the direct repair providers, and in turn put pressure on independent auto repair appraisers to write lower than market value estimates, Slossberg said. Jennings, in a 20-page opinion, wrote that “the neutrality and independence of licensed vehicle damage appraisers has been seriously compromised, thereby diluting pubic confidence in their role and the respect they should be afforded as state licensees.”

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