Woman sues Fastlane Towing over alleged damage to 'beloved' vehicle

Andrea Dearden Jul. 26, 2012, 8:26am

An O'Fallon woman is suing a Collinsville towing company she says damaged her vehicle, paid to have it repaired and then damaged it again.

Barbara Becker filed the lawsuit June 4 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Fastlane Towing Inc.

The 25-page complaint details a chain of events that Becker says began May 25, 2010 when she called AAA roadside assistance because her vehicle would not start. The woman, who describes herself as a "senior citizen," says an employee with Fastlane Towing met her and jump-started the motor. According to the complaint, Becker then "drove her drove her beloved vehicle 528 feet, when her vehicle abruptly stopped" and would not restart.

Becker says the the Fastlane Towing driver prepared to tow her vehicle but, in the process, "embedded" his truck into it. The woman says the Fastlane Towing employee immediately admitted fault, apologized for the damage and assured her that all of the repair costs would be covered by his company.

While still on the side of the road, Becker says Fastlane Towing employees told her they would move her vehicle to Carstar, a body shop co-located with Fastlane Towing at a facility in Fairview Heights. She says all of the repairs were to be performed by Carstar and paid for by Fastlane Towing. Becker, who says she suffers from anxiety issues, claims she was "visibly anxious, sweating and hyperventilating" at the scene. She contends Fastlane Towing took advantage of her condition by forcing her to make rapid decisions she didn't fully understand.

Once the vehicle was at Carstar, Becker says she was told she had to first replace the alternator before the body damage could begin. She says she paid for the new alternator and was then was told the vehicle would be towed to Collinsville to be repaired, a move she says made her very anxious. Becker says Fastlane Towing later insisted the vehicle be towed to a different facility in Marysville. When she learned this, Becker's "mouth, literally, silently fell open. She was speechless," reads the complaint.

Becker contends she was told she must sign an agreement allowing her vehicle to be towed to the Marysville shop for repairs. "Worn down and under duress by the bullying, undue pressure and constant talking and intimidation from the young woman," Becker says she signed the form. Afterwards, Becker says she found herself in "embroiled in a verbal duel" over her right to have a copy of what she had just signed.

On June 15, Becker says Fastlane Towing -- without prior notice -- arrived at her home and attempted to drop off her vehicle with what she says was new, extreme damage to the body of the car. The owner says there were large dents covering the vehicle. When she asked Fastlane about the new damage, Becker says she was told the vehicle was "badly damaged by hail." She says the company did not offer to repair the car or offer to pay for repairs.

Becker accuses Fastlane Towing of negligence for allegedly damaging her vehicle, promising to repair it to her satisfaction and then returning it with additional damage. Because of the company's alleged negligence, Becker says her "beloved vehicle lost the opportunity to become a prized 'vintage' financial asset, worthy of being inherited by" one of her relatives.

She contends she has been deprived of her freedom of mobility and independence because she now must rely on other people for transportation. Becker says she has suffered severe emotional distress, loss of income, mental anguish and is no longer able to enjoy her senior years.

Becker is asking to be awarded more than $50,000 in damages. She is representing herself.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-301

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