SEMA: John Eagle case attorney on avoiding $42 million lawsuits

Todd Tracy

By Tom Davis

Las Vegas, Nevada — November 2, 2017 — Todd Tracy, the attorney responsible for the $42 million John Eagle Collision case has offered his advice on how collision repairers can avoid getting hit with a lawsuit of their own.

Tracy, of Tracy Law Firm, represented plaintiffs Matthew and Marcia Seebachan in their lawsuit against Texas-based John Eagle Collision. The bodyshop was ordered to pay the bulk ($31.5 million USD) of the total damages that were awarded to the couple by a jury, after they were injured and trapped inside a burning vehicle.

The bodyshops’ “improper repair” was held to be liable for the severity of the crash of a 2010 Honda Fit in 2013. The other driver was attributed with 25 percent of the blame, taking the total amount of damages to $42 million USD.

The Seebachans were travelling in the Honda Fit on a 75 mph (120 kph) stretch of road when a 2010 Toyota Tundra was travelling in the other lane – it hydroplaned into their path. Despite little injury to the Tundra’s occupants, the Seebachans were seriously injured and trapped inside the burning vehicle.

Experts for the plaintiffs successfully argued that the severity of the Seebachan’s injuries were due in part to the bodyshop adhesive-bonding the Fit’s roof during an $8,500 hail repair.

The repair was not in line with Honda’s OEM repair procedures, which demand a shop tack-weld the front and rear corner edges of the new roof before performing two-and-three-plate spot welds and MIG plug welds.

Following the lawsuit, John Eagle Collision Center and attorney Todd Tracy “agreed to work together today to improve safety standards in the nation’s collision repair industry.”

Speaking to a large audience at the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ Repairer Driven Education class at the SEMA Show, Tracy told collision repairers “Folks, follow the rules, or face the consequences.”

During the class Tracy touched upon some key lessons that collision repairers should learn from the case. These included always following OEM repair specifications, not over-promising what your shop can deliver, reporting repairs and keeping a record of them and asking the customer to sign-off on any insurance company suggested repairs.

Other tips included never putting profit ahead of customers, and keeping records on data, accuracy, and integrity to learn how to “CYA [cover your ass]”, said Tracy.


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