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DOT on the hook for $10M (NY)


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Towing companies say DOT on the hook for $10M for canceling Westchester contracts


Five towing companies that won contracts to service state highways in Westchester for up to a year, and then saw the contracts canceled after 21 days, claim that the New York Department of Transportation is playing politics.


The DOT “may be bending to political pressure,” attorney Gary Rosen states in an affidavit, “so that the defendant New York State Department of Transportation can reinstate the prior towing companies.”


The towing companies accused the DOT of fraud and demanded $10 million in compensation, in a lawsuit filed May 21 in Westchester Supreme Court.


Glenn Blain, the DOT’s assistant director of communications, said in an email that the agency does not comment on pending litigation.


Rosen did not identify the towing companies on whose behalf the DOT allegedly acted, and he cited no specific evidence of political interference.


He represents Glen’s Towing Inc. of Elmsford; RJB Service Station Inc. of Harrison; Sal’s Servicenter in Cross River; Yonkers Towing & Recovery; and Yorktown Auto Body Inc.


New York State Police, acting on behalf of the DOT, allegedly asked the companies to provide towing and emergency road services on Hutchison River Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, Sprain Brook State Parkway and Taconic State Parkway.


They were assigned exclusive zones, the lawsuit states, beginning May 1. Four companies got one-year deals and one got a 6-to-12-month deal.


The state police was not named as a defendant, and Beau Duffy, director of public information, declined to comment on pending litigation.


RJB Service Station and Yorktown Auto Body had already been towing on Westchester highways for two years, under DOT contracts, and were each assigned an additional zone.


The companies hired drivers, bought new trucks and equipment and supplies, and rented extra storage space.


RJB Service Station, for instance, hired six full-time drivers, according to an affidavit by Robert Ballasedis, the president. Glen Prieser of Glen’s Towing bought two tow trucks for $250,000. Perry Gusikoff of Yorktown Auto Body rented additional storage space for $1,500 a month.


The DOT contracts allowed the companies to charge $125 plus mileage to tow a vehicle, $100 to deliver gas, $100 per half-hour to remove a flat tire, and $50 a day to store a vehicle after the first 24 hours.


Suddenly on May 11, according to the complaint, DOT official Robert Limoges notified the companies that their services would no longer be required as of May 21.


The complaint does not say who has been providing towing services since then.


The towing companies would not have bought trucks, equipment, hired drivers and spent hundreds of thousand of dollars, the lawsuit states, “had they known that the service would only have been for 21 days instead of one year as promised.”


They accuse the DOT of fraudulent inducement, unjust enrichment and breach of contract. They are asking the court to stop the state from terminating the contracts and from interfering with their towing services on county parkways.



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