Insurance provider State Farm is facing a federal lawsuit over accusations that it coerced a mechanic to use cheap materials in an important repair.
Following a heavy hail storm, Texas couple Matthew and Marcia Seebachan submitted a claim to fix the steel roof of their 2010 Honda Fit.
On the advice of State Farm, the two took their car to John Eagle Collision Center in Dallas for a replacement.
Instead of swapping out the damaged roof for another unit, John Eagle purportedly used a dangerous and ‘untested’ adhesive to reattach the steel fixture to the Honda Fit’s safety cage – despite advice from the manufacturer recommending welding at 104 separate points.
According to the suit, State Farm forced mechanics at the collision center “to use glue instead of welds.”
On the way to a family Christmas function in 2013, the roof of the Honda Fit collapsed on Matthew and Marcia Seebachan. Both suffered serious injuries.
An inspection of the car showed that roof had fallen away in the same spots John Eagle had applied its 3M 8115 adhesive glue.
The result, claims the lawsuit, “turned Matthew and Marcia Seebachan’s Honda into a bonfire.”
“State Farm advertises that it is a ‘good neighbor.’ On the contrary: behind the closed doors of auto collision centers, State Farm’s ‘good neighbor’ becomes a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde create that turns into the ‘neighbor from hell,’” read the complaint, which was filed in federal court.
The Seebachan’s attorney, Todd Tracy, said, “State Farm secretly and covertly plays Russian Roulette with its customers and the public by forcing body shops to choose their profits over the safety of the motoring public.”
John Eagle’s Body Shop Director admitted under oath that his employees had deliberately ignored Honda’s instructions to repair by welding rather than gluing.
PRNewsWire.com reports that a corporate representative for the collision center also gave his testimony, saying the adhesive was used on the roof even though 3M has ‘specifically stated that Honda does not permit the use’ of the substance.
“State Farm dictated to John Eagle how the car was to be repaired, i.e., to use adhesive rather than spot welding. Furthermore, State Farm can ‘trump’ the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) specifications because the repair facility needs to get paid,” explained the representative.
However, an analysis from Repairer Driven News paints a slightly more nuanced picture of the proceedings – testimony from John Eagle employees seemed to indicate that it may have been the collision center’s decision to use M3 over the OEM-recommended welds.
Both RDN and PRNewsWire.com made mention of the insurance industry’s position that OEM specifications shouldn’t be considered ‘gospel.’
“State Farm Insurance needs to find some old time religion when it comes to protecting the safety of its flock, i.e., policyholders and motorists. Ethical safety minded collision centers clearly believe that the OEM is the industry Bible. The arrogant attitude of this insurance giant who pretends to be everybody’s ‘good neighbor’ reveals its two faced Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mentality when it comes to putting profits before safety. How many of their customers are driving defectively repaired cars that are ticking time bombs set to explode in an accident?” asked Tracy.