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Class action lawsuit filed over towing activity

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Class action lawsuit filed over towing activity

By Kean Bauman. CREATED Dec 17, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The Las Vegas Strip parking lot where a towing company was accused of preying on unsuspecting customers is now the subject of a class action lawsuit.

The case was filed last Friday just three days after Contact 13's Investigation of towing activity in the area.

"They're totally a ripoff. They're a scam. And they're stealing people's money. It's an absolute scam. So beware," said Toni Jo Wilgar.

Wilgar is just one of many who asked Contact 13 to investigate the towing activity at 2955 South Las Vegas Boulevard.

On the first night of our investigation, our camera caught half a dozen cars being towed in just over one hour. And we learned the Nevada Transportation Authority issued more than 24 citations to tow truck operators at this lot since March. That's why many people believe they're being taken for a ride in the lot right next to the popular Peppermill restaurant.

So does the Plaintiff in this class action lawsuit. Although the property owner suspended all towing here as a result of our initial investigation, the lawsuit claims it was explosive of the past five years.

The case claims as many as 18,000 unsuspecting tourists and residents may have shelled out over $5 million for unlawful tows.

Attorney Justin Jones filed the complaint, "After seeing your report it really brought to light the need for some vindication for the folks who have had their cars towed from that lot."

The complaint notes the lack of any "physical barrier between the parking spaces" where cars are towed and parking on the Peppermill's property.

It also cites problems with signage. For starters, the lawsuit said, "There are no signs at the parking spaces." It claims one sign at the entrance, "Does not declare public parking to be prohibited or restricted," and, "The sign is not in plain view."

Then there's the issue of law enforcement state law requires tow companies to tell police when they tow cars. The lawsuit claims that never happened.

Paul Bai, the plaintiff in the case, said when he tried to get his car they wouldn't take his credit card. That violates a new law that took effect Oct. 1, 2013, requiring tow operators to accept all forms of payment.

"But I didn't know until we were there, they needed cash only."

Paul's experience mirrors that of other drivers we spoke to.

"They said they would take cash only to get the car out," Wilgar told Action News in our first story.

Michael Pierce was also in our first report.

"Were they telling you they would accept any form of payment or is it a cash only deal?" asked Darcy Spears.

"No. Cash, period," said Pierce.

"Cash only?" asked Darcy. "They would not budge," Pierce responded.

The complaint accuses the Tow Truck Company, Triple Five and other companies affiliated with the lot of conspiring "with one another for an unlawful objective" and for getting "unjustly enriched."

It even goes so far as to call the towing activity a "crime related to racketeering," not quite robbery, but close to it.

"Anytime you have two or more parties that are engaged in an activity that it unlawful, then you have a conspiracy," explained Jones. "And in some cases you have racketeering going on."

Paul agrees it's stressful and scary for anyone trying to get their car back, "I feel horrible and terrible and I feel for shame as a local resident, I was ripoff by the local company. How about the tourist?"

The Tow Truck Company said they have the correct signage at this location. It also reminds drivers to look carefully before they park.

Property owner Triple 5 said it's their policy not to talk about pending litigation.

If you believe you've been the victim of an unlawful tow at this lot and you want more information about the case call (702) 341-5200 or click here.