RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced Wednesday that he obtained a preliminary injunction against Charlotte-based A1 Towing Solutions, Inc. and its owner David Jewel Satterfield.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants allegedly improperly booted or towed trucks that were delivering needed supplies during this pandemic and in spite of the trucks’ drivers having the permission of property owners to park their trucks on the property.
The preliminary injunction limits fees the defendants can charge for towing and booting services, requires the defendants to release impounded vehicles after owners pay half the lien amount, and restricts business practices for the duration of the lawsuit.
Attorney General Josh Stein made the following statement:
“I’m pleased that the court has barred these defendants from taking advantage of any more consumers as we continue this lawsuit. My office will hold accountable price gougers who harm North Carolinians during this crisis.”
Attorney General filed the first price gouging lawsuit related to the COVID-19 state of emergency in North Carolina against the defendants on May 5. In his lawsuit, he alleged they violated North Carolina’s price gouging statute and engaged in deceptive trade practices and unfair debt collection practices.
According to the lawsuit, the victims who were improperly towed were delivering food, water, bleach, or needed medical supplies during this pandemic. After towing or booting the trucks, the defendants allegedly forced drivers to pay exorbitant amounts – up to $4,400 – for their release, and allegedly engaged in other illegal practices that resulted in the delay of delivery of critical supplies needed to respond to the pandemic.
Attorney General Stein is seeking permanent injunctive relief against the defendants, as well as restitution for victims, civil penalties, and other relief.
North Carolina’s price gouging law went into effect on March 10, when Gov. Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney General Stein and the North Carolina Department of Justice will be reviewing price gouging complaints from consumers closely and are prepared to take action against any businesses engaging in price gouging activities. To date, consumers have filed 2,001 complaints with the office.
If you are concerned about a seller charging an unreasonably excessive price, please report potential price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/price-gouging/.
Original Story (5/5/20):
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Attorney General files a lawsuit against A-1 Towing Solutions of Charlotte for price gouging and deceptive trade practices amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to court records.
The suit alleges that A-1 Towing Solutions used predatory practices to get excessive amounts of money from people whose vehicles were booted or towed.
The first allegation says an employee of A-1 Towing Solutions placed two boots on a tractor trailer (one on the cab and one on the trailer) while the vehicle was parked at a 7-11 convenience store on Little Rock Road in west Charlotte.
The driver of the truck told the Attorney General that he had permission from the store manager to park his vehicle at the business while he waited for his delivery time at the Amazon Distribution Center. According to the lawsuit, the driver was taking Clorox bleach to Amazon because of the pandemic.
While the driver was in his truck, he felt someone touching the truck and found that his 18-wheeler had two boots on it, according to court records.
The employee of A-1 Towing Solutions allegedly told the driver he had to pay $3,000 to get the boots off ($1,500 per boot). The Attorney General says the general range for removing a boot is $100-$150.
The company is also accused of towing more than a dozen 18-wheelers from a Home Depot off Albemarle Road in east Charlotte.
Several of the drivers say they had permission from the manager at Home Depot to park the vehicles overnight. However, when they returned to get their vehicles they found the 18-wheelers had been towed by A-1 Towing Solutions. Many of the drivers say they were not able to delivery critical supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic because their vehicles were towed.
A-1 Towing Solutions allegedly charged $4,000 for the tow bill ($2,000 for the cab and $2,000 for the trailer even though the trailers were connected to the cabs). The Attorney General says the general range for towing an 18-wheeler is $500.
The Attorney General also issued a temporary restraining order against A-1 Towing Solutions that says they can not engage in business until the lawsuit is resolved.
Read the full lawsuit here.