The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s use of the Freedom of Information Act led to an Arkansas towing company being ordered to refund overcharges and pay a civil penalty.
Pro Auto Wrecker was ordered by the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board on April 19 to reimburse OOIDA $5,615 and pay a civil penalty of $2,000 after the board used dash camera footage to determine the company charged for equipment that wasn’t used.
The complaint filed by OOIDA stems from a February 2014 accident that involved an OOIDA member. The accident, which was the result of an icy roadway, caused two tractor-trailers to jackknife. Pro Auto Wrecker was assigned to tow both vehicles by the Arkansas State Police.
Pro Auto Wrecker charged $12,578 for all services relating to the OOIDA member’s 2000 Peterbilt tractor-trailer.
OOIDA, which insured the vehicle, noticed that the bill included a charge for two heavy wreckers.
“It was our understanding that Pro Auto Wrecker had only two heavy-duty wreckers, and they billed us for both of them,” OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek said. “We knew two tractor-trailers had jackknifed, and we found out that Pro Auto towed both of them. It would have been impossible to do both if they billed us for two wreckers at the same time they billed the other tractor-trailer for two wreckers. The math simply doesn’t work.”
OOIDA used the Freedom of Information Act to acquire the 911 logs and a trooper’s dash camera video. After OOIDA showed the video to the towing and recovery board, the board investigated the matter further and pulled a second trooper’s dash-cam video.
Pro Auto Wrecker charged the OOIDA member $2,925 each for the wreckers. However, the board determined that Pro Auto Wrecker didn’t use two wreckers on the 2000 Peterbilt. Dash-cam footage, as well as a witness statement, indicated that a second heavy wrecker was not used during the recovery/towing of the tractor-trailer, the board wrote. The board also determined that Pro Auto Wrecker overcharged for “supervisor” fees and for the number of hours worked.
Matt Ross, who is the co-owner of Pro Auto, is also on the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board but was not allowed to participate in this matter.
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