Newark - The Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs have settled a lawsuit against Scott Flowers' Towing, also known as "Scott's Towing," a Middlesex County-based towing company, after the company was alleged to have charged excessive towing and storage fees when removing vehicles from private parking lots in Woodbridge.
Scott Flowers' Towing, of Woodbridge, will pay $12,905 to settle the State's lawsuit, under terms of the Final Consent Judgment filed in State Superior Court in New Brunswick. The settlement includes $2,355 in total restitution to 26 consumers whose vehicles were towed, $8,050 in civil penalties and $2,500 to reimburse the State's legal and investigative costs.
"We've gotten hard-earned money back into the hands of the consumers who we believe were wrongly victimized by allegedly excessive towing and storage fees," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
In settling the lawsuit, Scott Flowers' Towing is required to operate in compliance with the state's Predatory Towing Prevention Act, related regulations and the Consumer Fraud Act or face enhanced civil penalties for any violations in the future, under terms of the Final Consent Judgment.
"We are vigorously enforcing the Predatory Towing Prevention Act and our investigators are ready to work on any consumer complaints that we receive," said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. "We are committed to stopping the illegal towing of vehicles in violation of our consumer protection laws."
Acting on a consumer complaint filed in 2012, the Division of Consumer Affairs launched an investigation of the business practices of Scott Flowers' Towing at three residential parking lots in Woodbridge. In its lawsuit, the State contended that the company's signage did not fully disclose required information to consumers about non-consensual towing. The company also allegedly misrepresented the amount of its towing fees on its signage and allegedly charged excessive fees under the law.
The lawsuit also contended that Scott Flowers' Towing did not have the required contracts with the property owners to service two of the three parking lots and also allegedly charged storage for two days when vehicles were in its possession for less than one day.
As part of its allegations, the State had noted that Scott Flowers' Towing, since at least January 2012, conducted towing at the following private properties in Woodbridge: Sharon Gardens Condominiums, Woodbridge Center Drive; Peach Street Condominiums, Rt. 35 at Woodbine Ave.; and Hirams Community, 1120 Route 1. Scott's Towing allegedly did not have written contracts to provide towing services at Peach Street Condominiums and Hirams Community.
Investigator Michael Bruch in the Division's Office of Consumer Protection conducted the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Koziar, in the Division of Law's Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section, represented the State.
A consumer education brief that highlights the key features of New Jersey's Predatory Towing Prevention Act, as enacted in April 2009, can be read online.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint online with the State Division of Consumer Affairs or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.