Texas Couple Awarded $42M After Shoddy Repair Work On Honda Fit

A couple in Texas have been awarded $42 million after they were severely injured because of shoddy repairs made to their Honda Fit.

In December 2013, Matthew and Marcia Seebachan were hit head-on by another motorist. Matthew was trapped inside the burning Honda and suffered fourth-degree burns, was stuck in hospital for three years and continues to suffer from excruciating pain.

Upon hiring lawyer Todd Tracy, it was discovered that the Honda Fit they’d purchased used had previously been repaired after hail damage. However, the company which conducted the repairs, John Eagle Body Shop, glued on a replacement roof rather than welding it. Tracy alleged that this meant the doors were wedged shut in the crash and the fuel tank subsequently ruptured.

Additionally, it was discovered that none of the repair work was listed in the vehicle’s history.

Upon hearing about the verdict and the payout, the Seebachan’s told Fox 4 News that it wasn’t just about the money.

“That’s really what the verdict meant to us is hearing someone tell us what we’ve been through matters. And it matters not just us, but it matters for other people,” Marcia said.

Tracy is now suing State Farm Insurance, claiming that the company pressured the John Eagle Body Shop into performing the untested repairs.

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  • Christian

    Don’t get way you can buy a car that has been totally damage and believe you just can build it up again, then go on and sell it… IT WILL NEVER EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN…Here in Europe (Beside Russia…) You can’t get the car back on the streets again, but instead used it for parts, racing or something else.

    • Bash

      I understand parts, but racing? that is equally dangerous man!

      • Christian

        Not on the same level…You still need to place a roll cage. 🙂 Some safety measure has to be done.

        • Bash

          Of course 🙂

    • pureworx

      actually you can bring an accident damaged car back on the road in the uk.. each write off is categorised and anything classed as a CAT C or CAT D can be made road worthy again with the right repair work.

      • yep. Sometimes Cat C or D are a simple Fix / part Replacement. It still a salvage title but some a run and drive.

    • Eunos

      Here in Europe you can get this burned Honda Jazz and repair it to look like new and then get it registered with no problems at all.

      • Christian

        Lol…Not in my country, germany etc.

  • Bash

    That is awful!
    I feel sorry for the couple.
    Besides, i didn’t know that people drive Fits in Texas!

    • Auf Wiedersehen

      Oh yeah! Most have headache racks and grill guards…this one didn’t though.

  • TheBelltower

    Good. My father lived in pain for twenty years after a collision resulting from shoddy repair work. F^ck these a$$holes that put cars back on the road that should have been scrapped. The victims should have gotten a lot more than 42M.

  • Craig

    I wonder how much of that money they will actually ever end up getting.

    • John Smith

      From State Farm? Lots.

      • Auf Wiedersehen

        Do you think State Farm will be hurt? No…The rest of us will. Face it people…the consumer pays for everything.

      • Craig

        As I read it – they didn’t ‘win’ $42M from State Farm. They won it from the John Eagle Body Shop.

      • Jweisberg

        They won’t get a dime from State Farm. State farm does not tell repair shops how to fix cars. They are going after state farm because they won’t get anything from John Eagle Body Shop.

        • KidRed

          State Farm can tell the body shop what they will and won’t cover and and what price point. The body shop will then do the work based on the limits imposed by State Farm.

          • Jweisberg

            Insurance companies only tell shops what type of parts to use, new oem, used or aftermarket. They don’t tell them to cut corners. In this case statefarm paid 8500 to have a new roof skin installed. Spot welding the roof skin as the instruction stated has nothing to do with statefarm, thats all on the body shop. These people are just money hungry.

    • Jweisberg

      Zero

    • Matt

      If the repair shop doesnt go bankrupt; a large % is going to the lawyer which is expected & large % is going to medical bills both for the time at the hospital and future medical cost/care. 3yrs in the hospital!!? I hope one day soon they are both free from both the physical and mental pain this has caused. Medical & drug tech has gone such a long way and I believe it will continue to surpass even our wildest imaginations on what’s possible to repair and heal. Idk about 4th degree burns but i have seen amazing & fast results from burn victims skin looking almost identical compared with non burned sections of their bodies.

  • Before buying a used car, inspect it for damages and see how it was repaired. Sometimes cars there are totaled are put back on the street illegally.

  • David mcCreery

    The judgements on lawsuits like this always get me. How did they arrive at $42 million? That’s a huge number. Not saying they don’t deserve compensation because they do, but there’s no way this body shop can pay a $42 million settlement. The subsequent lawsuit going after the insurance company just screams greedy ambulance chaser to me. Gonna be hard to prove they pressured the shop.

    • brn

      Some of the awards on lawsuits are excessive and $42M seems excessive. On the other hand, who knows how much they’ll really get.

      You’re dead on about State Farm. If $42M isn’t enough, all they’re doing is chasing money.

      • David mcCreery

        Yeah, it just kills me when they award these massive personal injury and civil suit settlements knowing full well the defendant can never meet that obligation. Not that a settlement needs to be fair to the person responsible for the injury of another person, but that’s an amount that only corporations and a select few individuals can pay out.

        There has to be something that we don’t know about that would persuade a judge to award that amount.

    • Cameron

      Its called insurance my friend. Every business has it. At least they are supposed to.

      • David mcCreery

        A small auto body shop does not carry $42 million of liability insurance . . .

        • Keys D

          that shop is not a small body shop

          • David mcCreery

            … it’s not big enough to carry $42 million of liability insurance. Good input though.

  • Merc1

    Makes no sense the way it is explained here.

    M

    • Cupboi

      Care to elaborate?

  • Cupboi

    That’s messed up. This is why i’m always wary about used cars.

  • diesel_vdub

    This is why we need federal laws that define what justifies totaling the vehicle and what can be done with the vehicle based on the amount of damage it has received. The current patchwork of laws by the states is insufficient. A vehicle can be totaled or scrapped in one state but receive a legal title and be put back on the road in another state without the future buyer knowing what has occurred.

  • Stephen G

    Somethings not making sense here. The doors wouldn’t open because the roof was glued on? If the roof stayed on then the body shop did it’s job. Nobody felt there was a problem before the accident? If the roof popped off because of a poor glue job and that resulted in injury that’s a different story. This sounds like BS. Dealers here in Texas sell plenty of hail damaged cars without a problem and lots of people drive them. Of course I feel bad for the people that got hurt but I don’t think it has anything to do with the roof.

    • LeStori

      We are talking structural rigidity. Just because the rood stayed on does not mean it did its job.
      However apparently the car came with a welded roof not a glued roof. If that is the case it is shoddy workmanship and if it was an insurance claim then both the Insurance company and the repairer are responsible for putting back on the road a car that is technically unfit for purpose. The manufacturer has to crash test the vehicle. The repairer did not crash test the vehicle to make sure it conformed to USA safety laws.

      • Stephen G

        WRONG…if the roof stayed on the repairs were effective. How the roof is retained onto the rest of the structure is immaterial. If the joint is intact then its the same as if there was no joint. (Unless its designed to fail at that point the joint prevented that failure). Its the roof itself that provides the structure not the joint. Jaguars have been glued together for years and there hasn’t been mention of injury due to their construction!

    • krusshall

      Agreed, something doesn’t make sense. Is the plaintiff alleging that if the roof were welded in place that the doors would have opened after the crash allowing the victim to get out before being burned? I’m not sure the roof is even considered a structural member. Perhaps Honda’s SOP for roof replacement is structural adhesive.

  • krusshall

    It’s always about the money. That’s the legal way of inflicting pain and suffering.

    • Cupboi

      I’d say having fourth-degree burns all over your body is a lot more painful, but what do i know? That’s just a hunch.

  • Jweisberg

    This article fails to mention that the car was missing the fuel tank cover. Also, it was hit head on by a Tundra. I am not defending this repair shop but, I doubt welds would have stopped that Tundra from crushing that small car like a soda can. In the deposition the repair shop stated it was the repair shop director that made the decision not to weld the roof skin so I don’t know how these people are going to sue State farm. State farm paid that shop $8500 to do the job so there was no reason for them to tell that shop to glue the roof rather than doing a few spot welds.

  • Fred

    This is a scam!!! There is no way that a spot welded roof skin would make any difference vs panel bonded roof skin. Roof skin is not a structural part besides it was still intact in this case. Should of sued Honda for not making safe enough vehicle, I mean it’s a Honda Fit! Who buys them for safety??? And then take it out on someone else? This is ridicules!!

    • Cupboi

      “Who buys them for safety”
      Every passenger car, no mater the price, should deliver safety to it’s passengers. What a moronic and boneheaded thing to say!

    • Jake

      Whilst not a structural part on it’s own, I think a roof skin would make a difference in a roll over situation, in terms of holding different areas of the car together/offering some resistance. I remember in trade school us being taught that a windscreen becomes a structural part in a rollover, due to the added rigidity of having a part holding the car from twisting/crushing. Kind of like if a wooden box has a side missing, it’s easier to collapse than if it has all it’s sides.

      I however feel sorry for the repairer as (not sure about the US) but here in Australia several years ago it was considered trade standard to glue roof skins on, tens of thousands of them would have been done this way.

    • Stephen G

      Roof provides structure, especially in uni-body vehicle. Convertibles would be simpler to make if the roof wasn’t part of the structure.

  • Wolverine350R

    How was this car ever repaired? What was a used Honda Fit worth in 2013, it couldn’t be more then ~10K I wouldn’t think. $8500 on a $10K seems a bit odd.

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