UPDATE 12/28/12 @ 12:10 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An insurance company will no longer be able to use salvaged or after market parts on some vehicle repairs.
Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced Friday that Kanawha County Circuit Judge Charles King ruled that Liberty Mutual can no longer use these type of parts on vehicles less than three years old.
The court’s order upholds current state law that requires insurance companies and body shops to obtain a consumer’s written authorization before salvaged parts are used for the repair of new vehicles.
The Attorney General sued Liberty Mutual in January after an investigation revealed the company willfully violated state consumer protection laws.
Liberty Mutual admitted in court documents that it had repaired nearly 200 vehicles using junkyard and aftermarket parts in blatant disregard of the Aftermarket Crash Parts Act.
According to a press release, The Attorney General said the the company continued to defend the use of these parts which jeopardized safety and diminished the value of the vehicles.
The court did not rule on the amount of restitution Liberty Mutual will be required to pay to consumers. Judge King also did not rule on the amount of the civil penalties.
State officials say this is a big win for consumers in West Virginia.
Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw said he's suing Liberty Mutual Insurance for requiring body shops fix cars with junkyard parts.
A circuit judge ruled in 1998 that if a new car was made in the last three years and involved in a crash, all of the body work has to be repaired using parts from that same model year or newer.
One body shop owner tipped off the Attorney General's office after Liberty Mutual told them repairing cars with new parts was just too expensive.
"It's a rip off to the consumer I mean I have a new car, I want new parts," former Joe Holland employee Alice Dorsey said. "They weren't just encouraging, they were demanding. They were ordering us to break the law and Joey just wouldn't do that."
Alice Dorsey worked for Joe Holland and said Liberty Mutual had a police enforcing use of junkyard parts instead of new ones after an estimate she wrote up was said to be too high.
Holland was threatened and soon taken off Liberty's preferred shop list. Joe Holland then took his complaint to the attorney general that's been dealing with the insurance company for several months.
"They're doing this to save money -- that's the only reason they're doing it," Jill Miles with the consumer protection division said. "The only person that gets hurt is the consumer."
An easy way to think about it is if you're bumper is damaged in an accident, the body shop puts a five-year-old bumper on instead of a new one and suddenly all of the other parts that are touching the bumper are no longer covered.
"So you basically lose your warranty on the part that's replaced and any part that that part touches," Miles said.
Greg Chandler's Frame and Body in St. Albans was also sued after the attorney general says they were caught putting old parts on new cars.
Cracking this case could now finally mean customers will get what they pay for.
It is against West Virginia law to use salvaged parts on any new cars or those up to three years old. Everything has to be disclosed to you about repairs.
WSAZ.com did try to speak with Liberty Mutual but our calls went unanswered Thursday.
If you suspect this is happening at your area body shop, call the West Virginia Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division hotline at 1-800-368-8808.
Attorney General Darrell McGraw on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and Greg Chandler's Frame and Body LLC of St. Albans.
The lawsuit filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court details repeated violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. It accuses Liberty Mutual of requiring body shops to use reconditioned, re-manufactured and used parts for vehicle repairs and failing to properly notify customers.
The lawsuit asks the court to force Liberty Mutual to halt the practice, and seeks civil penalties and restitution for affected customers.
Chandler and a spokesman for Liberty Mutual didn't immediately return telephone messages Thursday.
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