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Texas couple awarded $42 million over faulty vehicle repairs

On December 21, 2013, Matthew and Marcia Seebachans were traveling to visit family for the holidays when they were struck head-on by a pickup truck that had hydroplaned. Their 2010 Honda Fit caught on fire and the roof collapsed while the couple was trapped inside the car. Matthew’s feet were wedged beneath the driver’s pedals, and both he and Marcia sustained serious injuries and burns from the incident.

The couple filed a lawsuit against John Eagle Collision Center in Dallas, where their recently-purchased Honda Fit had received repair work under the previous owner. This repair work was omitted from the car history report that the Seebachans had requested before purchasing the vehicle.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the Seebachans’ lawsuit claimed that when the previous owner brought the vehicle in to fix hail damage to the roof, John Eagle Collision Center used a cheaper repair method. Rather than welding a new roof onto the vehicle, as Honda recommends, the repair shop used a glue-like adhesive to connect the new roof.

The Seebachans’ attorney argued that these defective and negligent repairs made the car structurally unsound and led the vehicle to catch fire and trap the couple. This week, a Dallas jury agreed and awarded the Seebachans $42 million.

The Seebachans’ attorney has now filed a lawsuit against State Farm that claims that the insurance company strong-armed the body shop into using the lower-cost repair method. The lawsuit seeks $1 in damages to send a message about insurers pressuring body shops to cut corners to save money.

A spokesperson for State Farm released a statement that the claims made in the lawsuit “are not supported by the facts” and “are not in line with State Farm’s mission.”

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