Mo. Tow Truck Owner Gets Parked

November 3, 2004

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing a Wellston towing and storage business that Nixon says has charged outrageous amounts from consumers whose vehicles were towed.

Nixon obtained a temporary restraining in St. Louis County Circuit Court against Galez Towing and Recovery, of Wellston, and owner Bruce Gales to freeze their assets and stop further violations of Missouri consumer protection laws while the Attorney General’s lawsuit is pending.

Eighty-eight consumers complained to Nixon about problems with Galez Towing; some were hit with bills for towing or storage of more than $600. In addition, Nixon’s suit states Galez Towing sold vehicles it towed without having a valid title to the vehicles — an illegal practice in Missouri.

In the lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Nixon asks the court to permanently bar Bruce Gales from operating a towing and storage business; pay restitution to consumers; and pay a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

Galez Towing provides towing services to cities in St. Louis County including Wellston, Moline Acres, Pagedale and Pine Lawn. Vehicles are towed to the Galez Towing lot in Wellston. While Galez publishes rates for various services, several consumers were surprised to discover there is reportedly a charge of $100 to simply retrieve personal items from their towed vehicle.

Nixon’s suit also says Galez Towing charges far more than other tow operators in the area and customers do not receive an itemized or detailed receipt of the towing and storage charges.

In addition to barring Gales from disposing of any property without prior authorization from the court, the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Bernhardt Drumm Jr. also prohibits the defendants from:

* Perpetrating unlawful and unfair acts and practices.

* Charging towing and storage fees in excess of those charged by other tow companies in the St. Louis area or charging consumers for storage exceeding the actual numbers of hours the vehicle is stored.

* Selling vehicles to Missouri consumers without a valid title to the sale vehicle.

A hearing on Nixon’s request for preliminary and permanent injunctions is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m..

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