A class action filed in US District Court Friday claims Hartford Police failed to call the owners of stolen cars before it had them towed by city contractors that proceeded to charge the owners to get their cars back.
“The Hartford Police Department first contacts one of the Towing Companies, and instructs the Towing Companies to tow the vehicles to parking lots operated by the Towing Companies; the Hartford Police Department does not attempt to contact the owner of the stolen vehicles until after the vehicles have been towed by the Towing Companies,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit against the City of Hartford further alleges that when the owners of the vehicles attempt to retrieve them, Hartford permits the towing companies to charge the owners $97 in towing fees. Of the $97, $20 goes to the city of Hartford and the towing company keeps the rest.
And that’s only if the owner is able to pick up their vehicle within the first 20 hours, if they’re not then the cost of storage is added each day.
When one of the plaintiffs contested the towing fees he was forced to sign a statement that said, “I understand that all charges made after I was notified of the tow will be at my expense, regardless of the outcome of this objection.”
Preston Garcia’s objection was denied. So was Tracey Crawley’s objection. Crawley, the second plaintiff named in the lawsuit, was unable to pay the initial $97 fee to retrieve her vehicle and was shortly notified that if the market value of the vehicle does not exceed $1,500 and is stored for more than 15 days “the vehicle may be sold by the towing firm.”
Garcia and Crawley’s attorneys from the firm Schatz Noble Izard PC claim that by not notifying the vehicle’s owners first and failing to provide them with an opportunity for a hearing violates their due process rights protected by the 14th Amendment.