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Self-Help: Towing Problems in Portland, Oregon

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Here’s a story about a man who was wronged – and how it took him 5 months to right the wrong.

(We see a lot of people in the law library who want quick fixes for the wrongs done to them. It’s a hard lesson for them to learn — that fixing many wrongs can take time, persistence, patience, and forbearance, and sometimes all to the power 10.)

Portland man gets refund, and he wasn’t the only one wrongly towed,” by Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, Tuesday September 23, 2008:

Excerpt:

On a sunny spring Sunday afternoon, Southwest Portland resident Mike Meier drove to Tom McCall Waterfront Park for some exercise.

Meier, 43, a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair, parked his blue 1995 Ford Explorer in a handicapped spot outside the defunct McCall’s Restaurant. He had a state handicapped permit hanging in the window.

When he returned about 40 minutes later from wheeling around the riverfront, Meier’s car had been towed. With the help of a friend, he retrieved it from Sergeants Towing later that day, forking over nearly $200. The tow company told him that Meier didn’t have a special McCall’s permit required to park in the lot.

“They said everything was clearly marked, and I shouldn’t have been parking there,” Meier recalled. But he wondered why he needed a special McCall’s permit if the building looked empty. “I just thought, ‘Something wasn’t right.'”

Meier’s hunch was right — but it took him five months of dogged effort and intervention from a state senator’s aide to get the city to discover that Sergeants Towing was hauling away cars from nine prime parking spaces in the heart of the city without any legal authority for nearly half a year.

Last week, Sergeants refunded Meier the $194 tow fee after the city ordered it to stop patrolling the riverfront lot.

Meier filed a complaint in April, days after his car was towed. It wasn’t until last week that the city realized that Sergeants Towing was operating on an expired patrol tow agreement with Dragon Sports USA, an organization that had rented office space in the old McCall’s building in summer 2007. Their lease expired in January….” (read full article)