An anti-trust lawsuit against State Farm brought by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, with help from his former campaign treasurer, will most likely be sped up, as the suit has been moved to a multi-district litigation in Florida federal court.
Multi-district litigation is a special legal procedure which allows complex lawsuits to be sped up instead of being trapped in the court system for years.
The Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation transferred the case by Caldwell which was originally filed in the Louisiana court system to the US District of the Middle District of Florida.
Caldwell is alleging that the insurance company attempted to control the auto repair industry using scare tactics to make sure customers used repair companies that State Farm preferred.
State Farm allegedly forced shops to perform vehicle repairs quickly and cheaply instead of complying with consumer safety and vehicle manufacturer performance standards. “State Farm has created a culture of unsafe business practices in which consumer vehicle repairs are performed with cost-savings as the primary goal rather than safety and reliability,” Caldwell said when announcing the lawsuit.
State Farm allegedly directed consumers to repair providers that signed agreements with the insurer. Caldwell alleged that under the terms of the agreements, the repair shops must comply with State Farm’s standards of repair. State Farm allegedly dictated the quality of replacement parts and what types of repairs could be made.
But, the oddest part of the entire suit is the fact that Caldwell’s hired help to represent Louisiana in the case is Edmond Wade Shows of Shows, Cali & Walsh in Baton Rouge, who was formerly Caldwell’s campaign treasurer in the last election cycle. Back in 2011, Shows contributed $5,000 to Caldwell’s campaign.
Further analysis conducted the Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch (LLAW) found that Shows and his law firm have given Caldwell at least $15,000.
Caldwell has been questioned about the arrangement before. Watch here, as WWL question Caldwell:
Executive Director of LLAW, Melissa Landry, said the use of private plaintiffs is state litigation has increased under Caldwell.
“This process, dubbed the ‘Buddy System,’ has raised serious concerns about political supporters reaping windfall rewards from no-bid state contracts with little or no public accountability,” Landry said.
“Obviously, this case is another high profile example of that. Even though its being moved out of the judicial hellhole we know as Louisiana’s legal system over to Florida, we will continue to monitor the litigation and the activities of the attorneys involved.”
Caldwell said the lawsuit should set a precedent that the state is cracking down on unsafe business practices in the auto industry.