UPDATE: The City of Memphis and the Memphis Police Department said they could not comment on ongoing litigation. Tuesday, Memphis City Council is expected to discuss alleged abuses of the City’s Booting and Towing Ordinances by certain local companies.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A1’s Towing, and Hauling filed a lawsuit on Sunday against the City of Memphis, Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis, and multiple MPD officers claiming discrimination against a minority-owned business.
The lawsuit comes after multiple truck drivers have accused the company of illegally towing their big rigs from area truck stops and charging them thousands of dollars to get the vehicles back.
In the lawsuit, A1’s Towing says that it and its employees are being harassed and targeted. The business claims the Memphis Police Department is “weaponizing a civil municipal ordinance to discriminate against a minority-owned company.”
The lawsuit cites several instances where they say police officers conspired with truck drivers to manufacture charges against the A1’s employees to accomplish the City Of Memphis’ discriminatory goals.
Earlier this year, Two truck drivers were arrested and charged with theft of property after they allegedly illegally booted and tried to tow a big rig from a truck stop.
One of the men was also charged with simple assault after being accused of pushing the truck driver to the ground when he called police.
Police have made several arrests in similar incidents involving truck drivers and A1’s tow truck drivers. A1’s owner, Colton Cathey, was among those arrested.
In one instance, investigators said a truck driver was physically removed from his vehicle by men armed with guns, and his tractor-trailer was towed to A1’s lot on West Mallory Avenue.
In September, the City of Memphis Permits Office said they had opened an investigation into A1’s after receiving nearly a dozen complaints from truck drivers in less than a year.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office told WREG it had also received several complaints against A1’s but said it couldn’t comment on any potential investigation of the business.
“They’re not following the state law as far as when you boot someone, you’ve got to give them an invoice, and they’ve got 24 hours to pay it, but you know they don’t even give you an hour. Their driver manager doesn’t even know what the laws are,” said Fenn Church, owner of Church Transportation, in a previous interview.
Fenn Church was forced to pay A1’s $17,450 after two of his 18-wheelers were towed from two different gas stations just days apart. Church said he is considering a lawsuit of his own against A1’s to get his money back.
The lawsuit addresses the many complaints A1’s Towing has made against MPD and employees of the City of Memphis. The business claims that though it has requested that the harassment stop, it has continued and even intensified.
A1’s Towing is seeking recovery of all damages from the City of Memphis, MPD Chief Davis, and the multiple MPD officers for injuries and damages the business claims it has endured.
This includes lost profits, earnings, wages, embarrassment, humiliation, and harm to the company’s personal and professional reputation.
The City of Memphis has not had a chance to comment on the lawsuit.
When WREG showed Memphis Councilman Frank Colvett some of the A1’s invoices, he said he wanted city leaders to take a closer look at the large fees A1’s Towing and Hauling were charging truck drivers.
“I look at these invoices and $4,500 to get your truck out when all you were trying to do is apparently park and stay for the evening in a truck stop. At first blush, it just feels extraordinarily excessive,” said Colvett.
The Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board temporarily suspended A1’s booting license after receiving several complaints from truck drivers who believed they had been illegally booted and towed from the same West Memphis truck stop.
The director of the board said they are still investigating complaints involving the company.