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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJuly 18 - July 24, 2018
A citizen’s personal complaint on Facebook targeted a local tow company operating legally in Destin, Florida. image.

Viral Complaint Wreaks [b]Havoc on Company

A towing company owner in Destin, Florida, is defending his business after a Facebook post went viral over the weekend alleging unfair towing practices at a shopping center parking lot.

Tammy Bryan Pugh made a post on her personal Facebook page detailing what she said was a bad experience. She said she and her husband parked in a lot that wasn't adequately marked with "no parking" signs, and were treated rudely by employees after their truck was towed.

"In my mind, this is (a) corrupt business and should not be allowed," Pugh wrote of Destin Towing. "It is a trap."

The post went viral and the owner of the towing company is now defending himself after saying he's received death threats over the post.

"None of it is true," Destin Towing owner Scott Leach said. "Everything that we've done, everything that we do, the service that we provide for that plaza is strictly within the law.

"I just got a phone call from some guy saying he's going to burn my business down with us inside it because his vehicle got towed," he said.

According to Pugh's post, they decided to park at the Palmetto Plaza shopping center while out for dinner. They came back to find their truck had been towed away.

She said she didn't see "no parking" signs when they parked, but did see other vehicles in the lot. After discovering their vehicle was gone, Pugh's husband found a sign on the building and called the number for Destin Towing, which confirmed their truck had been towed. The couple had to pay $125 in cash to get their truck back.

Leach said that he's operating his business legally and the Palmetto Plaza parking lot is private property. He said he has a towing contract with Palmetto Plaza's property owner and the management company that controls it.

"They (Palmetto Plaza management) have contracted us to remove any vehicles on their property after 9 p.m. every day of the week that does not have a parking pass issued to them by a store owner or any of the units there," Leach said.

A Daily News reporter who went to the parking lot found six signs, most of them up against the building near the storefronts.
David Baxter owns One Feather Native American Jewelry and Art, which leases one of the storefronts in Palmetto Plaza. He said he feels bad that people are towed from there at night, but plaza management was forced to start towing people.


Tow Company Settles with Oregon

A Salem, Oregon, towing company agreed to settle with the state Attorney General's office after a series of consumer complaints about excessive charges and unfair treatment.

Discount Towing & Recovery agreed to pay $15,000 to the Oregon Department of Justice, according to documents filed in Marion County circuit court. Under the terms of the deal, Discount Towing will only have to pay $2,000 unless the company fails to comply with the agreement.

The company owner, Donald Duddles also promised to refund one customer $740.

"I'm excited," said Anna McEwen of Jefferson. "It will be nice to have that back in the bank."

McEwen had her car towed from a Salem parking lot in August 2016. She said the driver declined to drop her car from the tow truck, would not provide information where to pick it up or explain how much it would cost.

A receipt shows Discount Towing charged McEwen $741 to retrieve her car from the company's impound lot. She was required to pay in cash.

A news team's investigation in late 2016 found nearly a dozen complaints about Discount Towing & Recovery. Many consumers felt the Salem towing company charged unfair rates. Oregon State Police cut ties with towing company after that investigation.
As part of the agreement with the state of Oregon, Duddles did not admit to any wrongdoing.


Jail Time Set for Killing Towman

A Saginaw County, Michigan, woman will spend time in prison after striking and killing a towman this past January in Bridgeport Township. Dee Ann Parsons previously pleaded no contest to killing Thomas Tripp, 41, who worked for Mike's Wrecker Service in Saginaw. She had been drinking, police said.

On Wednesday, a Saginaw County Circuit Court judge sentenced the 50-year-old to serve a minimum of 42 months and a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Tripp's older brother, Peter Tripp, spoke before a judge sentenced Parsons. "My brother Tom is gone forever. I can't see him, talk to him or even give him a hug."

Police said Parsons had attended her work Christmas party Jan. 10 in Frankenmuth before crashing into Tripp, who was helping another driver who had a flat tire. Tripp had just loaded the vehicle onto a flatbed before he was struck from behind.

Parsons crashed in to Tripp, pinning him between her SUV and Tripp's tow truck. She backed up when others told her too, but said she never saw Tripp.

In court an attorney said a couple hours after the crash Parsons' blood alcohol content measured .13, nearly twice the legal limit. Results from a preliminary breath test given at the crash site were higher, but the actual number was not mentioned in court.

Parsons said she hopes someday the Tripp family can forgive her.

"I wish I could go back in time and take back, take it all away. I deeply wish I could trade places with Mr. Tripp," she said in court.

Outside there were several tow trucks lining Michigan Avenue to show support for the Tripp family.


County Begins Taking Tow Applications

The Charles County (Maryland) Sheriff's Office has begun the process of implementing legislation that was signed into law regarding tow services in the county.

House Bill 1320 ensures oversight and regulation of towing operations within Charles County. In order to operate within Charles County, tow companies must now complete and submit an application for tow service operating there.

Level 1 applications cover only consensual tow services. Level 2 applications cover consensual and non-consensual tow services.

Negligence Lawsuit, Two Years Later

McLanahan Towing in Edwardsville, Illinois, faces a negligence lawsuit over actions of a tow truck driver.

Carolina Casualty Insurance Co. and Berkleynet Underwriters filed a complaint on July 10 in Madison County Circuit Court against McLanahan Towing and an unidentified employee, exactly two years after the underlying incident occurred.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff's truck broke down and he called a tow truck from McLanahan Towing. As he retrieved items from his truck, the towman began lifting the vehicle, the complaint states. The man fell and severely injured his leg.

The plaintiffs claim McLanahan Towing is responsible for its employee's negligence.

The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek damages, costs and attorney fees.

Another related lawsuit over the same incident was filed against McLanahan Towing.


Recovery Is No Small Potatoes

Jeff Corbet of Wayne's Auto in Aiken, South Carolina, said the recent situation on Rudy Mason Parkway wasn't small potatoes.

"Pretty dramatic, you know? The truck was split, the trailer was detached in the ditch, and the fifth wheel had actually broken loose from the truck."

A car ran a red light on Rudy Mason, mashing into an 18-wheeler around 7:30 a.m. The impact caused the semi to fall into a ditch, spilling potatoes everywhere.

"It was a pretty big mess any way you look at it."

South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers and Aiken Public Safety officers arrived on scene for cleanup duty. You could say the situation was less than a-peel-ing.

The whole payload was 80,000 lbs. It was enough to keep them occupied for about seven hours.

Corbett said it wasn't any skin off his back.

"We're used to seeing anything from potatoes, to meats, to ice cream, and all sorts of stuff along the roads."

All in all, not that remarkable for this spec-tater.

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WreckMaster President Justin Cruse said that the WreckMaster Convention will bring together towers from all over North America to provide a unique and beneficial opportunity to broaden knowledge.
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