US Supreme Court To Hear Tow Case
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2004 Recovery Central To Petition
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A formerly-dismissed consumer protection case involving a New Hampshire towing firm and a gravely ill customer is set to be heard this session by the United States Supreme Court. The case has widespread implications beyond the towing industry, and could prove a bellwether decision on the hotly-contested issue of regulations.
It all began in 2004 at an apartment complex in upstate New Hampshire called Colonial Village. According to court papers, the management requested the removal of a Honda Civic after it wasn’t moved during a snowstorm, as required by their guidelines.
The owner of the vehicle, Robert Pelkey, was seriously ill and bed-ridden at the time, and would ultimately be hospitalized. While in surgery for a foot amputation, Pelkey suffered a heart attack. As a result, his recovery and hospitalization became extended.
During this period, Pelkey’s lawyer says he reached out to both the property owners and the tow firm involved, Dan’s City Auto of Manchester. He claims the tow shop told him the vehicle was scheduled for public auction two days later.
Court affidavits indicate that Pelkey, through his lawyer, requested the sale to be stopped. The vehicle was ultimately auctioned, and no compensation was made to Pelkey.
Previously the case had been tossed out on grounds that lawsuits may not be brought in consumer protection cases against a “tow-motor carrier” per the FAA Authorization Act of 1994. The New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down that decision, which the defendants are now appealing to the high court.
At stake is the greater issue of industry regulation, and whether the 1994 law precludes reasonable consumer protection.
SEE THE CASE CALENDAR – US Supreme Court… Dan’s City v. Pelkey
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