Birmingham Tow Company Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Predatory Towing Practices

Alabama drivers sue over predatory towing practices

Drivers Allege Illegal Towing, Shakedowns, and Lack of Transparency

Birmingham lawyers are trying to slam the brakes on a local towing company that is illegally towing drivers’ cars and short changing them on refunds, according to a new lawsuit. Preying on drivers through faulty payment machines, a lack of signage, and “hostile behavior” are some of the accusations levied against the Alabama towing company, according to

Birmingham-based Parking Enforcement Systems and its owners and affiliates were hit with the proposed class action lawsuit, filed by local lawyer Rhonda Hood and Alabama Car Lawyers on behalf of Birmingham residents who they say were victims of PES’s predatory behavior.

A night out turns sour

The initial complaint in the lawsuit is for driver Terry White, who had his vehicle towed by PES in late 2023 while he was enjoying dinner with his wife. The pair parked in a downtown parking lot owned by one of PES’s affiliates, downloaded the ParkMobile app to pay for three hours parking, and returned to find their car gone due to a malfunction in the app, according to White had to pay $160 to get his car returned, was made to sign paperwork he was not given the chance to read, and was never given a receipt, all in violation of local law. 

According to the local publication, White is far from the only driver that has experienced what he called PES’s “hostile” behavior, with other drivers claiming the company not only illegally towed their cars, but also caused thousands of dollars in damages in the process. One such driver, who called PES “terrible and unprofessional,” has been fighting the company in court for more than three years. 

City cracks down on predatory towing

The lawsuit comes not long after Birmingham updated its towing ordinance due to public outcry. The ordinance limits the fee drivers can be charged and requires private parking lot owners to implement new uniform signage. 

The rule change came after towing company owners were accused of mafia-like behavior and the public lobbied lawmakers to make changes. On Reddit, one Birmingham local wrote: “Are you sick of predatory privately-owned towing companies stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars out of our local economy each year? I am too. So much so that I emailed every person on our city council, and they have agreed to have a public meeting (date pending).”

Predatory towing issues not just an Alabama problem

Predatory towing is not unique to Birmingham. Similar lawsuits have been filed against towing companies in other states, including:

  • New York: In 2022, the New York Attorney General sued Bobby's Towing, accusing them of harassing and cheating customers. The owner is alleged to have engaged in rude behavior, illegal towing, price gouging, and discriminatory remarks.

  • Tennessee: Three trucking companies recently sued A1 Towing and Hauling for predatory towing practices. The lawsuit alleges the company targeted trucks and imposed excessive fees, potentially violating federal anti-racketeering laws.

The proposed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule banning junk fees could offer nationwide protection against unfair charges, including predatory towing fees. The Department of Transportation has also expressed support for truck drivers facing predatory towing practices.

“When a truck driver’s vehicle is towed, they can’t earn a living until they get it back — leaving them vulnerable to predatory junk fees from towing companies,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “We support FTC’s efforts to stand up for truckers by acting to ban junk fees and prevent predatory towing fees that can cause significant financial harm.”  



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