Lawsuit: Police, businesses allegedly accepted kickbacks to allow illegal towing in Detroit

Posted at 5:13 AM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 23:35:21-04

(WXYZ) — A class action lawsuit has been filed against Breakthrough Towing, claiming the company engaged in illegal towing practices to get hundreds of dollars out of drivers.

According to the 76-page class action lawsuit, Breakthrough Towing and its "new alter-ego Magic Towing" engaged in illegal charging practices - in some cases, charging five times the amount for a voluntary tow.

The lawsuit alleges that cops from both Detroit and Hamtramck accepted kickbacks to allow Breakthrough Towing to operate illegally, charging well over what is the normal price for people to get their cars back.

There are additional claims in the lawsuit against businesses who received kickbacks from Breakthrough to tow cars illegally from their property. These businesses include McDonald's, CVS Pharmacy and Midtown Liquor.

7 Action News has spoken to a lawyer for Breakthrough Towing in the past, who said Breakthrough Towing only tows when the business they are contracted with calls them and asks for a tow.

Detroit Police have said they are conducting an internal investigation into the matter.

James Allen, Hamtramck city attorney, released the following statement about the lawsuit:

The serious allegations in the complaint against unnamed members of the Hamtramck Police Department completely lack merit. Hamtramck does not contract with the defendant towing company and, under state law, cannot interfere with private property owners who choose to do so. Hamtramck has, however, taken appropriate measures to enforce state law as it relates to towing companies operating within the city. Hamtramck selected its own (different) towing company in a thorough competitive bidding process. That company is the exclusive provider of towing services to the city and the only vendor HPD is authorized to call for towing services. Hamtramck and its provider follow state law regulating towing. Hamtramck will viorously defend this meritless lawsuit.

A news conference will be held by lawyers from Ernest and Marko in Detroit to address the lawsuit at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

View the full lawsuit below:

Breakthough Towing Filed Complaint by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd