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Attorney General Files Suit Against Former Brentwood Towing

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RALEIGH, N.C., JULY 12, 1999 — A Raleigh towing company faces its most serious legal troubles yet. Monday, Attorney General Mike Easley filed suit against Brentwood Towing claiming its practices violate consumers' rights.

Just minutes after the owner of a vehicle parks, a waiting tow truck arrives with dimmed headlights and quickly tows it away. That is one example of what Easley calls "predatory towing."

It is barely the beginning of a long list of violations that prompted Easley to file suit against Brentwood Towing and its mother and son owners, Reba and Rick Walker.

"Rather than minimizing illegal parking, they've been maximizing towing profits," said Easley.

Easley's office has received more than 50 complaints about Brentwood which is now doing business as Action Towing.

"I feel like they stole my car," said Amy Ballinger.

Ballinger is one of the victims named in the suit. She first complained to 5 On Your Side after Brentwood illegally towed her car from a parking lot the towing company did not have a contract with.

She was then forced to pay $100 in cash to get it back.

Other complaints involve problems with improper signage in parking lots and drivers using threats and intimidation to get consumers to pay.

Several complainants say they were physically attacked by a driver.

According to the suit, in one case a Brentwood driver tried to run a man over with his truck and then beat him up. In another, the driver allegedly slashed a man's face.

Easley says the most egregious violation involved a pregnant woman.

"The car was lifted while she was in the car and wouldn't let her down until she gave them $50. EMS indicated she did need medical attention," said Easley.

Two more practices listed in the complaint involve employees not allowing people to get their personal property out of their cars and that employees required owners to sign affidavits saying their cars hadn't been damaged without letting them first inspect the cars.

No one from Brentwood responded to 5 On Your Side's phone calls, but Easley made it clear he will do whatever it takes to make sure they respond to the lawsuit.

"We want them out of business if they're not going to follow the law," said Easley.

A hearing is set for July 21.

In the meantime, a temporary restraining order is in place to keep Action Towing from engaging in any of the practices Easley alleges in the lawsuit.

Easley also had a warning for businesses engaged in contracts with Action Towing. Based on the information that is now public about the company's towing practices, those businesses could also be held liable.


Monica Laliberte

5 On Your Side Producer:

Lori Lair

John Clark

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