The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) sent a letter to Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell this past week to dispute statements made by the Attorney General about a recent lawsuit filed against State Farm Insurance, which called into question State Farm’s practice of encouraging repair shops to use recycled parts when repairing damaged vehicles.

The ARA expressed disappointment at Attorney General Caldwell’s references to recycled parts as “nothing more than used junk yard parts” and described his statements about recycled parts as “mischaracterizations and disparaging.”

The lawsuit that prompted the letter claims that State Farm used scare tactics to steer Louisiana consumers to State Farm’s preferred repair shops in violation of Louisiana’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.  The suit further alleges that State Farm forced these shops to perform vehicle repairs cheaply and quickly, using sub-standard parts and methods that may not meet consumer safety and vehicle manufacturer performance standards.

“The Attorney General’s statement leads consumers to believe that salvaged/recycled automotive parts are unsafe and inferior to new original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts,” the ARA said in its letter.  “Recycled genuine original OEM parts meet OEM requirements.  They are OEM parts, designed by the OEM, and built to meet the OEM requirements for fit, finish, durability, reliability and safety.  Your mischaracterization of recycled automotive parts does a disservice to consumers in Louisiana by seeking to limit their access to safe, affordable and environmentally friendly automobile repairs.”  The ARA also noted that the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals “recently affirmed the use of salvage/recycled OEM crash parts in vehicle repairs.”

Follow the Consumer Financial Services Law Monitor for further developments on this as well as other state Attorney General actions.