Using Recycled Parts Is Not A Crime!

Lawsuit Against West Virginia Body Shop Dismissed

To state that a recycled auto part is essentially an aftermarket part is to not understand the industry whatsoever. A West Virginia judge agreed, dismissing a 2011 lawsuit that was based on the fact that recycled auto parts are the same as aftermarket parts, according to the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA).

The lawsuit, initially filed in December 2011 by then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw, was brought against Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Greg Chandler’s Frame & Body LLC. It alleged both defendants violated the state’s Automotive Crash Parts Act and Consumer Credit and Protection Act by repairing new vehicles using recycled auto parts without obtaining the written consent of the vehicle owner at the time of the repair. The Crash Parts Act requires body shops and insurance companies to disclose to vehicle owners the use of certain replacement crash parts in repairs conducted within three years of the repaired vehicle’s original manufacture date, as well as written consent from the vehicle owner to use aftermarket crash parts and the distribution of a statutory notice to the owner that aftermarket crash parts have been used.

In a January 3, 2012 letter to then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw, ARA expressed disappointment about statements published by McGraw’s office regarding recycled / salvaged automobile parts, specifically objecting to references classifying recycled / salvaged parts to “junkyard parts.” “The Attorney General’s derogatory and misleading characterization of recycled / salvaged automobile parts does a disservice to consumers in West Virginia,” stated ARA in the letter. ARA also distinguished between aftermarket and recycled OEM parts, writing that “these quality ‘green’ auto parts also meet the performance, safety, fit and durability standards of the OEM.”

The ruling in Kanawha County follows the June 2014 ruling by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals that also affirmed the use of salvage / recycled OEM crash parts in vehicle repairs. In the June 2014 opinion, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals considered the applications of the Crash Parts Act and the Consumer Credit and Protection Act and found neither statute prohibited body shops or insurers from utilizing recycled / salvaged parts, and, moreover, applauded the insurers for using measures to reduce premium costs for their customers. The court ruled that aftermarket crash parts and salvage / recycled OEM crash parts are diametrically different products and not interchangeable in the context of the statute. Thus, the use of salvaged / recycled OEM parts by Liberty Mutual Insurance and the collision repair shop did not violate the Crash Parts Act.

The Court Of Appeals brief stated:

In the automobile repair industry there are three basic classifications of parts that are typically available for the repair of vehicles, namely genuine Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, aftermarket parts and reconditioned or recycled OEM parts. These three classifications can generally be defined as follows: Genuine OEM parts are parts that have been manufactured by the original manufacturer of the vehicle and are authorized to carry the name or trademark of the original manufacturer. An aftermarket part is a part made by a company other than the vehicle manufacturer or the original equipment manufacturer. A recycled OEM part is a part that was made for and installed in a new vehicle by the manufacturer or the original equipment manufacturer, and later removed from the vehicle and made available for resale or reuse.

Liberty’s decision was based upon its understanding that the use of recycled OEM crash parts was sufficient to maintain the manufacturers’ warranties for fit, finish, structural integrity, corrosion resistance, dent resistance and crash performance of the motor vehicle, pursuant to the provisions set forth in the Crash Parts Act, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and factory warranties issued by new car manufacturers.

The lower court that ruled on January 12 originally ruled in favor of McGraw’s office and the case went on appeal before state Supreme Court justices, who reversed the decision and sent it back to circuit court. Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King subsequently entered an order in favor of Liberty Mutual Insurance and the body shop owner, Greg Chandler of Greg Chandler’s Frame & Body, LLC.

“Together, these ruling are a significant step forward for the professional automotive recycling industry and the increased utilization of genuine, recycled OEM parts,” said ARA CEO Michael Wilson in response to the circuit court’s ruling. “ARA applauds the West Virginia courts for recognizing the value of recycled OEM parts to automotive consumers, collision repairers and insurance companies, and for supporting the demonstrated role of professional automotive recyclers in today’s automotive marketplace.”

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