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Wednesday August 18

Caliber Collision Centers Agrees to $5.8 Million Settlement in California Repair Fraud Case

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has announced a $5.8 million settlement with Caliber Collision Centers to resolve a consumer fraud lawsuit filed by his office and disciplinary actions initiated by the state Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) that alleged Caliber billed customers for parts and services that were not provided.

Lockyer filed in Orange County Superior Court a $5.3 million settlement of a consumer protection lawsuit brought against Caliber in December 2003 by Lockyer and Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth A. Egan. Superior Court Judge Michael Brenner approved the settlement. Separately, the state Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), a division of DCA, reached a $500,000 settlement to resolve its disciplinary actions against Caliber. The BAR launched those proceedings in 2003.

To settle the consumer fraud lawsuit, Caliber, while admitting no wrong-doing, will pay $3.3 million in civil penalties and $2 million to cover the costs of investigating and prosecuting the case, and monitoring Caliber's compliance with the settlement. Additionally, Caliber will provide free repairs to victims identified by BAR, and thousands of other eligible customers who had their vehicles repaired at Caliber shops between August 1, 2002 and July 31, 2004.

In the separate settlement with BAR, Caliber will pay BAR $500,000 to cover costs, and all 38 Caliber shops in California will be placed on probation for three years. In addition, 19 of the 38 shops will be suspended from operating for a period of one to five days.

Following is specific information on the suspended shops:

  • Miramar, Mission Viejo, Oceanside and San Juan Capistrano, one day; Chino, El Cajon, Escondido, Fresno, Los Angeles (Wilcox and La Cienega), Murrieta, Redlands, Rialto, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego (Daggett), San Marcos and Walnut, two days; and Costa Mesa, five days.
  • Additionally, Caliber must provide its Costa Mesa employees 24 hours of training. During the three-year probation period, the BAR settlement requires Caliber to allow BAR to conduct random inspections of vehicles undergoing repairs.

Under the settlement, consumers eligible for restitution will fall into two categories.

The first includes approximately 100 customers identified by BAR as victims of fraudulent practices alleged in the lawsuit. For those customers, Caliber either will repair the vehicle free of charge, or, if the customer chooses to take the vehicle to another shop, pay for those repairs. If consumers in this category already have had their vehicles repaired at another shop, Caliber will provide full reimbursement of those costs.

The second category of customers eligible for restitution includes about 56,000 consumers who had their cars repaired at Caliber shops between August 1, 2002 and July 31, 2004, and paid more than $1,000 for the repairs.

Caliber must send each customer in this category a letter notifying them they are entitled to a free vehicle inspection at a Caliber shop. All such consumers will receive the notification letter within 170 days from today. If the inspection reveals the repairs failed to conform to accepted trade standards, or to Caliber's initial estimate and final invoice, Caliber must repair the vehicle again at no cost to the consumer.

Consumers in the second category who have their vehicles re-repaired by Caliber can ask BAR to inspect those repairs. If BAR conducts an inspection and deems the repairs deficient, Caliber must repair the vehicle again free of charge.

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