READING — A Chester County towing contractor Wednesday sued the Reading Parking Authority for $2.8 million alleging the authority owes him for cars he towed and stored.
Travis Stacey, owner of Stacey's Towing, Honey Brook, said the authority contracted with him to tow vehicles parked in the city that appeared to be abandoned, or that had been booted after accumulating numerous unpaid parking citations.
"We did a contract and they reneged on the contract and left 81 cars on my lot for two years," Stacey said.
Nathan Matz, executive director of the parking authority, said Wednesday that he would not comment on the suit before reviewing it with the authority's solicitor.
"We're aware of what was filed," Matz said. "We will review the filing and a response will be forthcoming."
The suit alleges:
Stacey entered into a contract with the authority and routinely towed cars. If the owner did not pay the parking fines and a towing and storage fee to him, he filed paperwork with the state police to have the cars declared abandoned. Stacey could then either sell or scrap the unclaimed vehicles to recoup his costs.
The authority agreed to pay Stacey $150 per vehicle removed plus mileage to and from the Honey Brook salvage yard, roughly 20 miles away.
In order to scrap the cars the authority filled out paperwork authorizing Stacey to get rid of the vehicle he towed. However, in March 2015 PennDOT informed Stacey that the procedures and paperwork used by the authority were illegal.
"The state police viewed the authority's activity in seizing and impounding at storage facilities vehicles parked in violation of the city parking ordinances to be illegal in that the vehicles were not deemed abandoned under state law," the suit alleges.
Nevertheless, the authority continued to instruct Stacey to impound vehicles at his storage yard until Sept. 18, 2015, even though the authority knew the practice was illegal. As a result, the state police refused to issue salvage permits to Stacey, leaving 81 cars towed under his agreement with the authority sitting on his salvage lot.
On June 3, 2016, the authority terminated its contract with Stacey's Towing.
On April, 25, 2017, the state developed a new salvage method and Stacey was able to scrap or sell the 81 vehicles. But the authority never paid Stacey for storing the 81 vehicles from March 2015 to April 2017, when the state began issuing salvage permits to Stacey for the cars.
The suit seeks $12,150 for seizing and storing the 81 cars, plus $2.5 million in storage fees, $300,000 in interest plus Stacey's legal fees.
The parking authority has since contracted with two city contractors for towing and storage services.