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YOUNGSTOWN Companies sue city to get compensation



Published: Thu, July 19, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A city statute limits local towing charges to $30 for government-related tows and gives $10 of that back to the city.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Two local towing companies are suing the city, saying they are not properly compensated for towing police department automobiles or handling police-related tows.

Owners of Passarelli Bros. Automotive Services and Major's Towing, both of Youngstown, want $25,000 plus interest, attorney fees and court costs to cover past services.

They say the city engaged in coercion, forcing the companies to tow police vehicles, fix flat tires and perform mechanical services without reimbursement.

Last year, 13 city-owned police cars were involved in accidents.

They also say the city required the companies to pay for photographing parts of automobiles, processing police paperwork and handling other government-related matters regarding stolen, unattended or wrecked vehicles.

The business owners say a contract was never formed with the city, but the city put a $30 monetary limit on police-related tows, then took a $10 administration fee from that amount.

"Here's the bottom line," said Atty. Mark Colucci, who represents the companies. "These two companies have been long-time corporate citizens of Youngstown. However, after rolling with the punches all these years, it is absolutely impossible to do business on these terms."

Old fees: Colucci said the businessmen unsuccessfully tried to resolve the issue out of court. He said the cap on towing fees dates to a 1940 or 1950 city statute regulating such fees.

He said towing companies in cities comparable to Youngstown charge about $50 to $60, but many suburban businesses can charge from $90 to $150.

Michael Varjaski, owner of Major's Towing, said he's worked with the city since 1989. He declined to comment on the case.

Neither Passarelli owners nor city officials could be reached to comment.

The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial, but no date has been set for the case.

wheatley@vindy.com




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