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Three trucking companies sue A-1’s Towing for $5 million

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Three trucking companies came together to sue Memphis-based A-1’s Towing for allegedly “creating deceptive parking areas” to “lure and trap unsuspecting commercial truck drivers.”

Lawsuit Accuses Memphis Tow Company Of Fraud, Violations of RICO

On March 4, 2024, trucking companies Western Express, Inc., MHT Group, Inc., and Church Transportation and Logistics filed a civil lawsuit against A-1’s Towing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

The suit is seeking up to $5 million in damages plus legal fees.

The lawsuit names A-1’s Towing owner Colton Ahmad Cathey as a defendant as well as several other alleged “alter ego” companies, including A1’s Xclusive, LLC, A1’s Car Hauling, LLC, CAC Operations LLC, A1’s Aplex Memphis, Acord Security, S- Line LLC, and S-Line Truck Parking.

The lawsuit accuses A-1’s Towing and affiliated companies of violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which forbids “any person employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.” 

The suit also accuses Cathey, A-1’s Towing and affiliated companies of interfering with commerce by threats or violence, fraud, violations of Tennessee towing statutes, and violating the Tennessee Booting Consumer Protection Act.

Complaint Outlines Alleged Illegal Tow Scheme

In the 56 page complaint, the trucking companies accuse Cathey of operating various businesses under “assumed and fictitious names” as part of a racketeering scheme.

From the complaint:

“S-Line contracted with multiple third-party businesses in and around the City of Memphis, the State of Tennessee generally, and others to provide security and/or “parking services” to such businesses. These businesses typically took the form of entities running gas/service stations and/or paid parking lots frequented by commercial truck drivers engaged in interstate commerce, such as those drivers employed by each of the Plaintiffs.

…Defendant S-Line engaged in a pattern and practice of creating the appearance of open parking in certain areas within the State of Tennessee which were adjacent to major truck stops and/or convenience markets, in the effort to lure commercial truck drivers, like the Plaintiffs’ respective drivers and other commercial truck drivers, into parking in such areas as the drivers utilized the services of the truck stops/convenience markets.

In so doing, Defendant S-Line would deliberately and deceptively either fail to post the property as being private and/or off-limits for parking by the drivers or would otherwise post signage intended to deceive the drivers into believing that if the requested fee was paid, the driver would be permitted to park there for a specified period of time. 

However, by at least October of 2022, Defendants Cathey, CAC and S-Line conspired together to create an illegal and unjust interstate enterprise, whereby Defendant S-Line, utilizing its access to these third-party businesses under the guise of providing security and “parking services,” would lure and trap unsuspecting commercial truck drivers, creating deceptive parking areas for such drivers and their vehicles, and then regardless of the propriety and legality of the commercial truck driver’s parking in the space, S-Line would contact Defendants Cathey and CAC to have the commercial vehicle unlawfully booted and/or towed from the premises.

S-Line, working in common concert with Defendants Cathey, CAC, CAC’s assumed/fictitious alter egos, and/or John Does 1-10, would then proceed to predatorily target the commercial truck drivers and their equipment for alleged “unpaid parking fees,” illegally booting, towing, and in multiple instances “storing” the driver’s vehicle in direct contravention of the applicable law(s).

Companies Cite Examples Of Harassment, Threatening Behavior

The lawsuit goes on examples of the predatory practices of A-1’s workers.

During a November 2023 tow dispute in Memphis, the suit alleges that A-1’s affiliated employees would “continuously honk their horns and deliberately “rock” the MHT tractor so as to prevent the MHT driver from sleeping and force/harass him out of the tractor, and for all intents and purposes, holding both the MHT driver and vehicle hostage.”

In another instance in August 2023, the lawsuit alleges that employees of Defendant Cathey and CAC “were armed with guns and wearing bulletproof vests” during a tow dispute with a Western Express driver. “They banged on the driver’s window and attempted to otherwise intimidate Plaintiff’s driver. Plaintiff’s driver, fearing for their safety, exited the Western Express vehicle and allowed the Defendants to illegally tow it from the premises.”

Over the past year, A-1’s Towing has denied any accusations of wrongdoing.

The company has filed its own lawsuit against the city of Memphis, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, and Memphis police officers claiming discrimination against A-1’s Towing because it is a minority-owned company.

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