Broward County

Court says company that illegally towed vehicles at Sawgrass Mills must pay $457,500

A Fort Lauderdale towing company’s overzealous shopping-for-business at Sawgrass Mills mall on a Thanksgiving weekend will cost it $457,519 after a Broward Circuit Court ruling this month.

The city of Sunrise sued All County Towing to get the cash from fines levied against the towing company for 84 illegal tows at Sawgrass Mills on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and the following Saturday in 2015. Judge Keathan Frink gave the city the $411,000 in fines levied in 2016 plus $41,998.51 in interest and $5,021 costs, including attorney’s fees.

All County Towing’s lawyer, Levi Williams, didn’t respond to the Miami Herald’s request for comment on the judgment.

Extensive towing rules govern hook-and-haul companies in Sunrise, especially when dealing with private property, such as the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall and the surrounding shopping areas. City code on towing requirements for towing from private property/

After All County towed 110 vehicles over three days of Thanksgiving Weekend 2015, Sunrise brought the company up on code enforcement charges before a special magistrate. One of the issues concerned Lot Monitoring Services, a company that claimed it had service agreements with seven property owners. LMS said the agreements made it an agent of the property owner with the power to identify cars to be towed and authorize the towing.

The special magistrate viewed the agreements and pointed out they were never authenticated and were copies. Also, one of the property owners testified that his agreement had been “altered to list the lot services provider (LMSI) as an authorized agent to tow vehicles, which was not on the agreement he signed.”

Also, the special magistrate ruled that there was “substantial evidence that LMSI, the firm that monitored an authorized the towing of vehicles for the (84) cases were agents of ... All County Towing ... (All County) controlled the actions of LMSI and each property owner believed they were dealing with (All County).”

A portion of Sunrise’s towing code states “an agent for a property owner shall not be an officer, agent or employee of the tow truck operator.”

So, the special magistrate ruled in October 2016 there were 84 illegal tows and All County, run by president Christopher Casale, owed $411,000 in fines. When All County didn’t come across with the cash in three months, Sunrise was given a right to sue for the amount of the fine.

According to Capt. Mark Pierce of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office in Wichita, Kansas, an initial four-car crash occurred nearby, which resulted in three people being transported to the hospital for minor injuries. As a tow truck was arriving

Since 1989, David J. Neal’s domain at the Miami Herald has expanded to include writing about Panthers (NHL and FIU), Dolphins, old school animation, food safety, fraud, naughty lawyers, bad doctors and all manner of breaking news. He drinks coladas whole. He does not work Indianapolis 500 Race Day.