Authorities in North Carolina are taking action against a tow company accused of booting and towing trucks hauling essential supplies during the Coronavirus pandemic.
On May 5, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced that he had filed the state’s first price-gouging lawsuit of the Coronavirus crisis against Charlotte-based A1 Towing Solutions, Inc. and owner David Satterfield. The suit asks for restitution for truck drivers and their companies who were affected by improper towing and booting practices.
Stein accuses A1 Towing and Satterfield of violating North Carolina’s price gouging statute and engaging in deceptive trade practices and unfair debt collection practices during the Coronavirus emergency.
The lawsuit says that A1 Towing and Satterfield “improperly and predatorily” booted and towed trucks hauling food, water, bleach, or needed medical supplies in spite of the fact that the truck drivers had obtained permission from property owners to park.
From a news release from Stein’s office:
After towing or booting the trucks, the defendants allegedly forced drivers to pay exorbitant amounts – up to $4,400.00 – for their release. The defendants also allegedly engaged in other illegal practices, including but not limited to double-booting a tractor and its attached trailer to double the price for removing the boots, charging inflated fees for use of a credit card and bogus fees for filings with the DMV, and threatening to increase fees for the release of the trucks unless the drivers paid immediately.
These improper booting and towing actions led to the delay in the delivery of critically needed supplies, Stein says.
Stein has also obtained a restraining order that prevents A1 Towing and Satterfield from towing or booting any vehicles until a court hearing.
The lawsuit specifically named four truck drivers who had been improperly booted or towed by A1 Towing.
In one of these cases, truck driver Nouhu Kaba had reportedly parked overnight at a Home Depot in Charlotte with express permission from the store manager. When he arrived at the lot just before 5 a.m. on the morning on March 30 to pick up and deliver a load of medical supplies, his truck was missing from the lot. Kaba later learned that his truck had been towed by A1 Towing. The company charged him $2000 to release his truck from the impound lot. The truck wasn’t released until 4:45 p.m. on March 30 — meaning that Kaba had lost a whole day of driving and delayed the delivery of two loads of medical supplies, according to the lawsuit.
“As North Carolinians were waiting on critical supplies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, these defendants were exploiting the situation for their own profit,” said Stein. “Any would-be price gouger should take note – my office will hold you accountable for harming people in this time of crisis.”
If you have been a victim if price gouging in the state of North Carolina during the pandemic, you are asked to report the incident by clicking here.