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Diamond Triumph Auto Glass, Inc. v. Safelite Glass Corp.

January 11, 2007

DIAMOND TRIUMPH AUTO GLASS, INC., PLAINTIFF
v.
SAFELITE GLASS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court is plaintiff's motion for reconsideration (Doc. 464) of our order granting in part and denying in part both parties' motions for summary judgment (Doc. 463). The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for decision.

Case Background

The parties in this dispute are competing automobile glass companies. Both repair and replace damaged vehicle glass, largely for insured individuals. The dispute centers around the business operations of and agreements between Diamond Triumph Auto Glass, Inc. (Diamond) and Safelite Glass Corporation (Safelite). Safelite served as automobile glass claims administrator for more than 100 insurance companies from January 1, 1999 through June 30, 2004. As part of its repair business, Safelite leased and maintained telephone numbers policyholders called to make claims, maintained call centers to answer those calls, provided policyholders and agents information on coverage during such calls, received and recorded information from claimants, answered policy questions for callers, administered scripts worked out between Safelite and individual insurance companies which guided the interaction between policyholders and call center workers, helped schedule service from glass providers and helped process the invoices submitted by policyholders after service to see that they met approved policy guidelines. Safelite also arranged guaranteed maximum prices with each insurance company and warrantied its product and services with the companies.

Safelite's shops did not perform every repair contracted for by insurance companies. Safelite presided over a repair network that included 200 Safelite shops and 400 Safelite mobile repair units, but which also included 10,500 affiliated shops. These affiliated shops became part of Safelite's network by signing contracts called Network Affiliate Participation Agreements. Those agreements required that shops perform work at or below the prices guaranteed to insurance companies by Safelite, and that they meet quality standards Safelite established. In return, Safelite agreed to refer policyholders to the affiliates for repairs. The agreements did not guarantee the affiliates a particular volume of calls, but affiliates did not have to pay a fee to associate themselves with Safelite. If a policyholder expressed a preference for a non-affiliated glass provider, Safelite's employees warned the caller that Safelite could not guarantee the non-affiliate's work or ensure that prices would not exceed coverage. Diamond entered into such an affiliate agreement on April 1, 2000. The company remained part of the Safelite network until voluntarily terminating the agreement on April 1, 2002.

After ending its affiliation with Safelite in April, 2002, Diamond sent at least fifteen different insurance companies letters complaining about the way that Safelite administered the insurance programs. The letters claimed that Safelite made false statements to policyholders about Diamond's products and services, and that Safelite used its claims administrators to direct customers to Safelite shops. In June 2002, Diamond followed up these original letters with another set of complaints addressed to insurance companies, claiming that Safelite had a policy of stealing jobs. From 2002 to 2005, Diamond also attempted to promote its business by providing benefits to insurance agents who referred policyholders to Diamond. The company spent more than $4.5 million during those years on gift certificates and gasoline cards for agents.

On March 29, 2002, Diamond filed a complaint that initiated the instant case. Diamond filed a First Amended Complaint on May 7, 2002. Following the filing of a partial motion for summary judgment, Diamond filed a Second Amended complaint on February 18, 2004. That complaint contains five counts stemming from Safelite's administration of insurance claims. Diamond alleges that Safelite breached the network agreements between the parties, violated state consumer protection statutes by improperly influencing consumer decisions in the claims process, tortiously interfered with Diamond's business relationships with policyholders, engaged in common law disparagement of Diamond and committed false advertising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1). On March 8, 2004, Safelite filed seven counterclaims related to letters that Diamond sent to insurance companies after leaving the Safelite network and Diamond's use of gift cards to influence consumer decisions.

In August 2005, both sides filed motions for summary judgment. On July 31, 2006, we issued a decision that granted the parties' motions in part and denied them in part. (See Memorandum and Order (Doc. 463)). We granted Safelite summary judgment on several counts in Diamond's complaint, including Count I, breach of contract; Count II, state deceptive trade practices; and Count V, Lanham Act violations. We also granted summary judgment on Count IV, disparagement, to the extent that scripted warnings provided to insured parties who contacted Safelite as claims administrator were true, and on Count IV, tortious interference with business relationships, to the extent that the claim was based on truthful scripted warnings provided to prospective customers who called Safelite as claims administrator and expressed a preference for Diamond. We granted summary judgment to Diamond on Count III of Safelite's counterclaim, related to the Robinson-Patman Act. We denied summary judgment on all other claims and counterclaims.

Jurisdiction

This court has jurisdiction over the dispute pursuant to its federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1367. State law applies to claims considered pursuant to supplemental jurisdiction. United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (citing Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938)).

I. Motion for Reconsideration

A. Legal Standard

Plaintiff moves for reconsideration of this court's decisions granting summary judgment on counts I, II and IV. "The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 799 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985); Max's Seafood Cafe ex rel. Lou-Ann, Inc. v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir. 1999). The movant must demonstrate one of three grounds for such a motion to be granted: (1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence not previously available; or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or to prevent manifest injustice. Max's Seafood Cafe, 176 F.3d at 677. A motion for reconsideration is not a proper vehicle merely to attempt to convince the court to rethink a decision it has already made. Glendon Energy Co. v. Borough of Glendon, 836 F. Supp.1109, 1122 (E.D. Pa. 1993). Such motions may not be used to give a dissatisfied party a chance to "[change] theories and try again," and thus obtain a "'second bite at the apple.'" Bhatnagar v. Surrendra ...


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