Body shops file suit over State Farm’s part-finding program

JACKSON — More than two dozen body shops are asking a Mississippi court to block an insurance company’s program that would change the way they find auto parts.

The Mississippi Collision Repair Association and the body shops filed a lawsuit yesterday in Hinds County Chancery Court against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and PartsTrader LLC.

The lawsuit, which represents only one side of a legal argument, claims consumers would be at risk if State Farm requires body shops to use PartsTrader, an online marketplace, to find the least expensive parts available to do repairs. It also claims parts might have to be shipped longer distances, extending the time for repairs and damaging body shops’ relationships with their customers.

State Farm spokesman Roszell Gadson said in a statement yesterday: “We were unaware of any complaint and will have to limit what we can say until there is an opportunity to review it.”

John Eaves Jr., the plaintiffs’ attorney, said State Farm has been requiring body shops in a few states to use PartsTrader, with a plan to eventually extend that requirement to all states. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to block State Farm from requiring Mississippi body shops to use PartsTrader.

“It really is a race to the bottom because they will have to buy the cheapest parts,” Eaves said.

The plaintiffs in the case are from numerous Mississippi cities: Brandon, Brookhaven, Canton, Clinton, Crystal Springs, Flowood, Jackson, Lakeshore, Laurel, Natchez, Ocean Springs, Pearl, Philadelphia, Picayune, Richland, Ridgeland, Ruleville, Vicksburg and Yazoo City.

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