Tale of two Corvettes: Florida man wins case against SGI in claim over twin Chevys
Court orders insurer to provide U.S. law firm with name, address of Sask. vehicle owner
A Florida man has won a legal fight to have Saskatchewan Government Insurance release the name of the Sask.-based owner of a vehicle he believes is a fraudulent copy of his rare 1967 Chevrolet Corvette.
Robert Bonanno's vintage car, which he considers to be the authentic vehicle, has the same vehicle identification number (VIN) as another identical vehicle registered in Saskatchewan.
On Aug. 31 the Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan ordered SGI to release the name and address of the Sask. vehicle owner to Bonanno and the Pennsylvania-based law firm, Shook Legal, which represented him.
U.S. lawyers try to find Sask. owner
The Saskatchewan insurer had previously refused to release the information citing privacy reasons under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Bryan Shook, the owner of the law firm representing Bonanno, believes the current owner of the vehicle is unaware of the claims their vehicle is a fraud.
Frankly, I've never had another governmental entity take a position like that.- Bryan Shook, owner Shook Legal
"We believe the present owner of the cloned vehicle … he or she is an innocent bystander. The car was created many years ago, probably 20 years ago," said Shook, who specializes in vintage car law.
He said his client discovered the existence of a second vehicle with the same VIN number when he took his Corvette to a car show in Florida.
VIN issue devalues original vehicle: lawyers
Shook Legal wanted SGI to release the name and address of the registered owner in order to pursue a declaration that his Corvette was the authentic one.
The law firm said that having two vehicles with the same VIN diminished the value of Bonanno's vehicle, claiming that it would otherwise be worth more than $250,000.
At the time the case was filed, Shook Legal said the information could also be used in two court cases filed over ownership of the vehicle in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
But SGI refused to release the personal details related to the VIN.
"SGI submits that the applicant does not seek particulars of a Saskatchewan licence, but rather the applicant wants access to the identification of the registered owner through a VIN," reads the Court of Queen's Bench decision.
Case goes to Sask. privacy commissioner
In March, 2017, Shook Legal took the case to the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner, who said the name and address should be released.
According to the Aug. 31 decision, SGI continued to withhold the details. Shook then took the case to the Court of Queen's Bench.
"Frankly I've never had another governmental entity like this take a position like that," he said.
"We've got a court order in Pennsylvania saying 'Hey we need this information' and they're just not complying. It was strange to me."
Court of Queen's Bench issues court order
The Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench concluded that SGI had not justified its position to deny disclosure of the information, and that the name and address of the Saskatchewan-based Corvette owner should be provided to Shook Legal.
Shook said he does not yet have the information about the registered owner of the Saskatchewan vehicle but he plans to follow up with the Saskatchewan-based lawyer who appeared on behalf of Shook on Aug. 31.
The case does not accuse any individual of duplicating the car and Shook said he does not know who would have done it.
He added that the need to know the name of the current owner is not as urgent now because the Pennsylvania case has been settled.
Replicas not uncommon
Shook said replica vehicles are sometimes created when an authentic vehicle is lost or damaged, but they are often advertised as being replica versions.
Shook does not know if his client will seek to have the VIN number changed once the current owner has been located.
"I don't know what the options are that are available, I don't know what the present owner would want to do," said Shook.
"It's something we would like to do amicably, to sit down and talk about and figure out and resolve — if a resolution needs to happen."