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Are Michigan towing laws violating your rights?

Lawsuit argues state law is unconstitutional
Posted at 1:37 PM, Dec 28, 2018

Are police and a Detroit towing company conspiring to impound people’s vehicles without telling them?

That is the allegation in a lawsuit filed in federal court. The attorney on the case is speaking out on Seven Action News, saying he believes there are many more victims out there and he is willing to represent them too.

Jason Katz, an attorney on the case, says he was hired to represent a car leasing company. Their car was towed while a customer used it, but allegedly would not release it.

As he worked that lawsuit he found other plaintiffs who also had issues with Bobby’s Towing on Lyndon in Detroit. Their stories were similar.

One man claimed his car was towed from a street where parking is allowed. He reported it stolen to Detroit in 2016. It wasn’t until 2018 that he was told that the car had been impounded and was at Bobby’s Towing. Because of the length of time he was allegedly told he owed more than $11,000.

“Bobby’s indicated that the $11,000 was owed primarily for two years of storage charges dating back to Jan. 5, 2016. In other words, the vehicle was towed by Bobby’s the same day it went missing, from that date through February 23,2018 (a period spanning over two years) the DPD did not report the Grays Vehicle as abandoned in the LEIN system and no notice was otherwise provided to Grays that his vehicle had been recovered. Because he did not receive notice, he had no opportunity to challenge the seizure of his vehicle,” reads court documents filed by the plaintiffs.

Attorney Jason Katz says as he has worked this case he has learned that state laws protect towing companies working with municipalities and make it hard to hold those abusing the system accountable. He says the law needs to be changed to make sure people get fair notice - and don’t lose their property without cause.

Katz says he has found little recourse under the law at the state level. As a result he has sued in Federal Court, arguing that the lack of state law protecting people from towing abuse is a violation of their constitutional rights.

WXYZ reached out to both Bobby’s Towing and the City of Detroit. Both had no comment.

Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a brief arguing that Michigan's law is constitutional and provides enough protection.

Editor's Note: Our series "Getting Around Metro Detroit" explores the problems and solutions to transportation issues throughout our area. If you have a tip for our Getting Around Metro Detroit series, please send it to gettingaround@wxyz.com.