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Court upholds State Farm judgment over Gunder's Auto Center

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 - 00:00
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld a lower court’s order granting summary judgment in favor State Farm Insurance in Gunder’s Auto Center’s claim against the nation’s largest personal auto insurer for slander and tortious interference with a business relationship.

Ray Gunder, the founder of the central Florida’s 43 year-old auto collision repair and mechanical auto service center made the following statements:

“After getting the court’s decision, I re-read it and just sat in disbelief just staring at it for hours. Is it really possible in this country for a huge conglomerate like State Farm to attack my small business with what are known to be outrageous lies and be considered legally privileged?

As I understand it, the legal rule is that the so-called “privilege” is forfeited if derogatory and defamatory comments are made with “Express Malice”. To be considered “Express Malice” one would need to reach the level of calling me and/or my family murderers and rapists.

State Farm came after us in 2004 in an attempt to silence my voice by attacking our company’s reputation in our community and their attempt to financially destroy our business by steering customers away with totally untrue and outrageous lies ... and that, according to the court, at least in my case ... is legal!? This ruling is justice?

It’s important to understand that if this ruling stays; every honest and ethical shop owner in the industry is in jeopardy of similar efforts against them if they don’t fall in line and do as they’re told by this megalith insurer and other insurers who may chose to follow suit!

This ruling is scary for “all” of us. Although this is but one ‘leg’ of my legal journey to correct the harmful and predatory practices of some insurers, it’s a very bitter pill to swallow!

 

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