Body shop owner sues after suffering injuries during repossession attempt

By Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau | Jun 14, 2013

MARSHALL - A body shop owner has filed a lawsuit claiming he was injured when someone came to repossess a vehicle he was storing.

Rickey Staten filed suit against Panola County, Adam Jones, Americredit Financial Services Inc., Investor Recovery Services & Asset Management L.L.C., Investor Recovery Services L.L.C. and Olin Hargett on June 12 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. 

Staten owns R&K Body Shop in Deberry and was contacted by Robert Lewis around April or May 2011 to tow a damaged vehicle to storage and provide an estimate for repairs, according to the suit.

After inspecting the vehicle, Staten claims he attempted to get approval to repair the vehicle with Lewis’ insurance company, but negotiations failed. According to the lawsuit, no one picked up the vehicle and the vehicle remained on Staten’s lot accruing storage fees for approximately 45 days.

Defendant Americredit hired Investor Recovery Services to repossess the Lewis vehicle from Staten’s property.  As defendant Hargett was attempting to tow the vehicle, Staten stopped him, stating that the he could not take it as the storage fees had not been paid.

The Panola County Sheriff’s Department was called to the scene. A deputy arrived and told Hargett to take the Lewis vehicle off the property. During the repossession process, Staten alleges he was injured by Lewis.

The defendants are accused of negligence for failing to keep a proper lookout, driving the vehicle without regard for the safety and welfare of other persons or property, breaching the peace, driving the vehicle recklessly and with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property in violation of the Texas Transportation Code.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, disfigurement, physical impairment, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, attorney’s fees, interest and court costs.

Staten is represented by Justin Aaron Smith of Sloan, Bagley, Hatcher & Perry Law Firm in Longview. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:13-cv-00483

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