Hearing in proposed class action against Caseyville towing company continued again

Ann Maher Oct. 12, 2012, 8:00am


Madison County Associate Judge Stephen Stobbs continued a hearing on a defense motion to dismiss a proposed class action against a Caseyville towing company.

Plaintiff's attorney Thomas Maag asked Stobbs for another 10 days to consider a reply brief he received from defense counsel Thomas Frenkel on the eve of the hearing at 4:30 p.m.

Frenkel, who represents Black Lane Auto Parts, argued that the documents faxed on Thursday included documents previously produced in discovery and one new affidavit. He said there were "no new facts" in what was sent to Maag on Thursday.

The hearing on the motion to dismiss was docketed last month, but was continued when Maag asked for substitution of judge. Associate Judge Thomas Chapman presided before Stobbs.

Stobbs gave Maag seven days, not 10, and set hearing for 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Maag represents Tiffany A. Craycraft of East Alton who alleges Black Lane towed her 2000 Ford Taurus from a Caseyville road on April 11 without her consent.

She seeks damages for alleged violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code under its Ant-Theft Laws and Abandoned Vehicles chapter, as well as under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act because when she retrieved her vehicle she did not receive a detailed, signed receipt showing the legal name of the towing service.

At the hearing on Friday morning, Frenkel told Stobbs that he had filed his motion to dismiss on Aug. 8, but did not receive Maag's reply until Oct. 9.

Stobbs noted that both parties "fired off late."

Maag said he was "not asking for a lot of time" in his petition to continue the hearing.

"It took 20 minutes for it to come through the fax," he said, having noted previously that the documents numbered 50-60 pages.

Craycraft's lawsuit was filed four weeks after her vehicle was towed from a turning lane on Highway 157 that leads to eastbound Interstate 64.

She had been arrested by Caseyville Police at 2:30 a.m. after she was observed disobeying a traffic light, court documents show.

During the traffic stop, Caseyville officer Andrew Schuler determined that Craycraft was the subject of an outstanding warrant issued by the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk, and she was taken into custody.

Schuler wrote in an affidavit attached to Black Lane's brief in support of dismissing the suit that the vehicle had posed a serious traffic hazard, which is why a "police tow" was authorized to remove Craycraft's vehicle.

Black Lane argues that plaintiff's individual claims should be dismissed with prejudice and Maag's motion for class certification should be denied.

"Defendant effected a police tow of an unattended vehicle, a 2000 Ford Taurus, incidental to Plaintiff's arrest, from a location in a traffic lane of a public highway where it presented a traffic hazard, at the direction of a law enforcement agency, all in the interest of public safety," Frenkel wrote.

"Accordingly, the 2000 Ford Taurus was properly towed under subsection of 4-203(d) of the Code as the tow was ordered by police from a public highway to a police impound lot. And because the tow was a police tow from a public highway, the Code's receipt requirement, which applies only to towing or removal of a vehicle from private property, does not apply."

In Maag's Oct. 9 response to Black Lane's motion to dismiss, he states, "...[I]nstead of limiting the motion to the relevant facts, Defendant, in an effort to smear the Plaintiff, includes irrelevant and meaningless material in the record that this court should not, and cannot consider."

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-641.

More News