Notes on Budget Towing, City of Ypsilanti and Washtenaw County Court

My wife was in a car accident.  She's fine. I know that would be the first thing you would ask.  A (probably drunk) ran a red light and broadsided her, totaling a car worth about $1,500.00.  The probably drunk ran from the scene and it was reported that he was driving his mothers car, which had not been insured for two weeks prior to the incident.

At the scene of the accident the Ypsilanti Police Dept call Budget Towing and give my wife a list of the charges.  She had the AAA card top get the car off the road, but was just sort of steamrolled with the Police contacting Budget.......which charges $20.00 per day for "storage fees".

A couple days later we go down to Budget and they won't let me get property out of the car until I sign a paper agreeing to a whole list of charges.   I sign "NO WAY" and the guy doesn't look closely at the paper, so we get our stuff. 

A few days after the incident I receive a "PETITION FOR HEARING ON AN ABANDONED VEHICLE".  Note the stickit added to it where the clerk on Hogback listed $40.00 bond, $65.00 filing fee, $towing fees (cash bond) at the Judges instruction.....more on that later.

Since I don't agree with the $125.00 towing fee (since it should have been $45.00), nor the $50.00 cleanup fee (no evidence anything was cleared up); nor the $20.00 per day storage of a car on a dirt lot in the flood plain when I can rent a space on pavement in downtown Ann Arbor for $75.00 per month.  I take the attached "PETITION FOR HEARING ON AN ABANDONED VEHICLE"
down to 14A-2 District Court, 415 W. Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, address and the blond haired clerk behind the counter asks me for the receipt of costs from Budget.

I tell her that I disagree with the costs and want a hearing to contest them.  She says I can't file for a hearing and pay the $65.00 unless I have 1) paid a $40.00 bond fee; 2) also posted the full amount Budget claims I owe as a cash bond.  I tell her that the car is totaled and that I an not asking to have the vehicle released - and show her the top box on the attached petition, but she refuses and says that is the way they do it. I have to pay all of the charges before I can have a hearing to contest the charges.  My response to that was to get her to confirm what she said the first time and then raise enough uncomfortable questions about their reading abilities to be escorted out the facility by Deputy Poe, after being advised by the clerk that they did not file those cases any more anyway as it was now done by the Court on Hogback.

So I went up to Hogback and received the same opinion, voiced the same objections, but this time there was this diminutive black judge who happened to be in the clerks office, who did not at all appreciate my reading the statute to him and explaining that it only requires the posting of a bond where I want to have the vehicle released pending the court hearing.   And when I asked him to show me the part of the statute that said I had to post the cash bond if I wanted a hearing to dispute the charges without having my vehicle released he basically threatened me with content, for raising my voice or being angry (I was not that loud, especially considering that they were behind the glass, so you don't know if they can hear you or not and there was no-one from the public present) and had the deputy escort me out.

 Here are the causes of action that I see:
  1. the Ypsilanti Police are directing the business to their preferred contractor - Budget, who is charging the consumer (in this case a victim of a crime) substantially more than the AAA towing insurance coverage that the victims wife had in her pocket.   I think they should stop doing this and be mandated to not allow this sort of gouging and/or allow the person to contact AAA (or any company) as the Appellate Court noted here.
  2. the Secretary of State needs to send out a properly addressed notice so that the recipients are not wasting their time going to the wrong court in Ypsilanti;
  3. the Clerks of the Court need to accept and file the case without demanding a bond and payment of all of the fees;
  4. Budget should not have this 'gouging" contract with the City of Ypsilanti that is not in the public interest and which is then enforced by the court system which contradicts the statute they swore to uphold.

Here is the Secretary of State website stating the same that is on the Petition letter I received which states:

"Before the hearing, you may obtain release of your vehicle by posting a bond with the court equal to $40 plus the accrued towing and storage fees. If you do not obtain release of the vehicle storage charges may continue to accrue."

Under the statute my maximum liability as an individual is $1000.00 so that is all this case is worth....except if the above is a civil rights violation where I am being deprived of property and due process under the color of the Washtenaw County Court /  Judge Simpson and Clerks office who refused to file my petition to dispute the fees, unless I had already paid the fees.   If it is a federal civil rights case - I believe that I would be entitled to attorneys fees.

I am personally very disturbed that the clerks at two courts are denying defendants such rights and doing so with the full consent and support of the Judge.

Is this something where one letter from an Attorney is going to make all of this go away without pissing off a sitting judge, or is this something of a public interest that it deserves to have a federal case made of it.

On the car accident case - you tell me if there is any potential against the owner of the car (the mother of the driver) for the value of the vehicle $1500, car rental $600.00, medical (maybe $2000.00 for the wife and two girls) and towing fees?