Wood River man claims towing service applies fees unjustly; Attorney Maag seeks class certification

By Molly English-Bowers | May 12, 2016

EDWARDSVILLE – A Wood River resident is suing over allegedly unjust and unequal towing fees charged by a Wood River towing service. He seeks class-action status.

Lucas Clark, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed the suit May 6 in Madison County Circuit Court against Trickey's Service Inc.

On March 19, a Saturday, the plaintiff was arrested on a DUI charge and the defendant towed his vehicle to its place of business, the suit says, adding that since the next day was a Sunday and the defendant was closed, the plaintiff could not recover his vehicle that day.

He was able to retrieve his vehicle on the following day, a Monday, according to the complaint, and was charged $358 for towing and $40 per day for storage for three days.

The suit alleges that the defendant charges approximately $100 more per vehicle towed at the direction of law enforcement than for a private tow. Furthermore, the suit alleges, the defendant does not post its rates, as required by law.

Finally, the suit alleges the defendant is unjustly enriched by charging storage fees for the first 24 hours when a vehicle is towed at the direction of someone other than the vehicle owner.

Clark is represented by Tom Maag of Wood River.

Maag has filed at least one other lawsuit in Madison County involving tow fees. In 2012, he claimed Black Lane Auto Parts towed the vehicle of his client Tiffany Craycraft without her consent.

Craycraft had been arrested by Caseyville Police at 2:30 a.m. in April 2012 after she was observed disobeying a traffic light. She was taken into custody by police on an outstanding warrant, and as a result her vehicle was left on the roadway. Subsequently, Black Lane towed the vehicle from a turning lane on Highway 157 on police orders. 

Her proposed class action claimed that Black Lane did not have authority to tow vehicles unless they have been abandoned on a toll highway or interstate highway for more than two hours or have been abandoned on a highway in an urban district for more than 10 hours.

The lawsuit was dismissed by Associate Judge Stephen Stobbs in fairly short order - about seven months after it was first filed.

Stobbs wrote that the Illinois Vehicle Code "does not impose a duty on a towing service, conducting a tow at the direction of law enforcement, to second guess the police agency’s assessment of the traffic hazard created by the position or location of the unattended vehicle upon the roadway."

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-638

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