Indiana Unfair Competition Litigation: Property Damage Appraisers Sues Clinton Body Shop and Its Owner

Indianapolis, Indiana – Texas defamation and franchise attorneys for Property Damage 

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Appraisers (“PDA”), in conjunction with Indiana co-counsel, sued alleging that John Mosley (“Mosley”), owner of the Clinton Body Shop, Inc. of Clinton, Mississippi, committed unfair competition under the Lanham Act by falsely representing the nature of an estimate made by one of PDA’s franchisees. Various state-law claims have also been pled to the court. This unfair competition lawsuit was initially filed in Indiana state court. It was removed from the Marion County Superior Court to the Southern District of Indiana by Indiana intellectual property attorneys for Defendants.

Plaintiff PDA is a national franchisor with a network of approximately 185 independent franchisees that are in the business of performing inspections on vehicles and other property. It has been in business for over 50 years. Defendant Mosley is the owner of the Clinton Body Shop. Clinton Body Shop advertises itself as a one-stop, full-service shop for automobile services.

Mosley is accused of inducing a PDA franchisee, John Larry Gentry, into providing a nonconforming auto-services estimate on PDA letterhead. PDA contends that Gentry was told that this estimate was only for comparison purposes and that it would be provided only to the Mississippi Attorney General’s office.

PDA claims that, instead, Mosley subsequently e-mailed this estimate to the Indiana Auto Body Association. PDA also asserts that Mosley mischaracterized the contents of, and process involved in writing, the estimate. According to the complaint, Mosley also delivered this nonconforming estimate to “other body shops around the country, making the same misrepresentations.”

In its complaint, filed by Texas defamation and franchise lawyers for PDA, in conjunction with Indiana co-counsel, the following counts are listed:

• Count I: Federal Unfair Competition (15 U.S.C. § 1125(a))
• Count II: State Unfair Competition
• Count III: Defamation
• Count IV: Tortious Interference with Business Relationships

PDA asks the court for damages, including exemplary damages; interest; attorneys’ fees, expenses and costs; and a permanent injunction.

Practice Tip: The vast majority of Indiana intellectual property litigation takes place in federal court, as the intellectual property causes of action that are most often litigated creations of federal statutory law. Thus, they may be heard in federal court under federal-question jurisdiction. However, some intellectual property lawsuits – for example, litigation involving a trademark that is registered only with the state of Indiana and used solely within Indiana’s boundaries – may occur in Indiana state court.

The suit was filed by Brian A. Colao and Zachary Hoard of Dykema Gossett PLLC and Drew J. Miroff and Derek R. Molter of Ice Miller, LLP. The case was assigned to Chief Judge Richard L. Young and Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore in the Southern District of Indiana and was assigned Case No. 1:14-cv-01490-RLY-MJD.

PDA Complaint Exhibit A

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