West Virginia tow company pays almost $74,000 in damages to OOIDA, member

May 8, 2018

Mark Schremmer

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An original towing bill of about $31,000 has resulted in a West Virginia towing company paying out almost a total of $74,000 in damages.

OOIDA life member Ysabel Luna of Lubbock, Texas, recently received a $23,000 judgment in West Virginia Circuit Court in a civil case against Anthony’s Truck Repair in West Virginia. Luna’s lawsuit sought damages for lost loads stemming from a third-party tow he received from Anthony’s in 2014.

In January 2017, Land Line reported that a West Virginia Circuit Court judge ordered Anthony’s to pay OOIDA, which insures Luna, about $40,000 in damages and attorney fees from that 2014 tow. In addition, the West Virginia Public Service Commission recommended in December 2015 that Anthony’s pay OOIDA a little more than $10,000 as a refund.

OOIDA filed a complaint on June 5, 2015, alleging that Anthony’s overcharged Luna for a third-party tow on July 5, 2014. Anthony’s sent two different bills for the incident, one for $30,000 and for $31,660.08.

According to the evidence filed in the complaint, Luna was hauling garage door panels south along a sharp uphill curve on Route 20 in West Virginia when the passenger-side tires of his trailer went in a ditch.

Luna considered the ditch incident to be relatively minor and thought he could get the trailer out with the help of another bobtail and avoid having to use a tow truck. According to the evidence, the only people Luna called were his wife and the insurance carrier. He did not call Anthony’s and did not consent to them towing his truck.

When Anthony’s appeared at the scene, Luna said he assumed that the wrecker would simply pull him out of the ditch. However, Luna said the first wrecker did not take into account the weight of the 80,000-pound load and caused damage to the equipment. The wrecker then indicated he could not pull the truck and that he would have to take a different course of action.

Luna said he believes the mishap grew from a small incident into a much larger problem, which included his product being damaged. When a second wrecker from a different service arrived, they started pulling product out of Luna’s trailer and placing it in flatbeds. Product was removed until the wrecker felt the trailer was light enough to be lifted with its equipment. Eventually, the trailer was lifted out of the ditch and completely unloaded. In all, three different wreckers were called to the scene.

Luna drove his truck and was escorted to Anthony’s, which was about 30 miles away. Luna’s truck was impounded, and Anthony’s denied his request to let him spend the night in his truck. Instead, Luna paid for a hotel another 30 miles away.

According to the complaint, Anthony’s would not discuss the bill with Luna and would not release the truck until the insurance company paid. Luna was forced to stay in a hotel for several days and was responsible for the cost of meals and hotel charges during that time.

The problems continued for Luna. He never saw his load again and personally lost business. It took a month before Luna could acquire another trailer. He had to pay the amount left over for his load after the insurance made its payment. Luna went from being considered a good driver to being an at-risk driver with a single non-injury accident.

The complaint claimed Anthony’s charged Luna $100 for the ride to the hotel and $1,080 for traffic control/flaggers even though the Green Sulphur District Volunteer Fire Department did all of the traffic control.

OOIDA filed the complaint with the West Virginia Public Service Commission on behalf of Luna.

“This is an opportunity for members of OOIDA to see that when it really gets down to it, OOIDA doesn’t play around,” Luna said. “I’m grateful. I could never say anything bad about them. They went to bat for me. OOIDA made me feel like being a member is being a part of a family.”

TBS

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.