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Queen’s towing company rips off public with NYPD blessing: lawsuit

The city turned a blind eye for years while a Queen’s towing company monopolized services on many Big Apple highways, ripping off thousands of drivers in the process, a new lawsuit alleges.

The class action lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Saturday, seeks more than $58 million in damages for the defrauded drivers from the NYPD, the city’s Department of Consumer and Labor Protection and Runway Towing Corp. She claims city officials ran the company as an illegal “blackmail company” at the expense of unsuspecting motorists.

The lawsuit also alleges that the NYPD has repeatedly renewed Runway’s contract without a tender since 2013, ignoring many complaints received by the Department of Consumer and Labor Protection about the company’s alleged violations of the law, including underpaying workers and illegally compensating them cash off the books.

The two city agencies “conspired … to allow Runway to operate … even though motorists told them at least six years ago that Runway was overcharging consumers,” said attorney Gary Rosen, the Runway customer and former employee in the lawsuit represents.

An image of a Runway Towing Company tow truck.
Attorney Gary Rosen, who represents Runway customers, said city authorities conspired to allow the towing company to operate.

The lawsuit alleges that Runway has earned more than $200 million from his NYPD contract since 2010 providing roadside assistance and towing services on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway; Kosciusko Bridge; the Cross Island Parkway in Queens; Sections of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn and Queens; Brooklyn’s Gowanus Expressway and Prospect Expressway; and the Staten Island Expressway, the West Shore Expressway, the Korean War Veterans Parkway, and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway on Staten Island.

It is also alleged that the company relies on shady practices to boost its profits, including ordering towing companies to bring vehicles they pick up to the company’s Ozone Park office – wherever they break down.

It’s a move that generates hundreds and sometimes thousands of additional dollars in unnecessary towing and storage costs for the public per vehicle, former runway employees and customers told The Post.

Mary Olsen, 62, said she had no choice but to gift her 2000 Nissan Altima to Runway after it was totaled on the Staten Island Expressway two years ago. She said a runway tow truck took the car to the Ozone Park warehouse more than 20 miles away without her consent – and without offering a cheaper option, such as a car. B. towing to a parking lot next to the nearest exit or to a nearby body shop.

Runway customer Mary Olsen said she had no choice but to give her car to the company after it was totaled.

Runway customer Mary Olsen said she had no choice but to give her car to the company after it was totaled.


A picture of an invoice Mary Olsen received from Runway.

Olsen said the runway tow truck took her car to a facility 20 miles away without her consent and without a cheaper option.


Towing fees under Runway’s city contract are said to be $125 plus tax, but Runway may charge additional fees if the trip exceeds 10 miles and a vehicle is stored at their facility.

Olsen said she initially had no way of getting from Staten Island to Ozone Park to reclaim the car, so her debt continued to mount — including nearly $27 a day in storage fees. She said Runway would not give her access to the vehicle to sell or scrap to pay her bill.

Ultimately, she said she had no choice but to work out a deal to pay Runway $325 in cash and underwrite the title of her car to settle the remaining $927 in debt she owed.

“If the accident happened on Staten Island, there should be a place here where the cars can be towed. I find it ridiculous that you have to go to someone else [borough]’ Olsen said.

A picture of Mary Olsen holding up her receipt from Runway.

Olsen said she worked out a deal to pay Runway $325 in cash in addition to signing the title on her car to settle the remaining $927 she owed.


A screenshot of a Runway commercial.

The lawsuit seeks more than $58 million in damages from the NYPD, the NYC Department of Consumer and Occupational Health and Safety and Runway Towing Corp.


Runway and its executives have previously been hit with lawsuits over similar claims, including a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of consumers in federal court in Brooklyn in December 2019, which is pending.

“Blame Runway, the NYPD and the Department of Consumer Affairs [and Worker Protection] “Operating a business” that violates the Racketeers Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act “is not only stupid, it’s sanctionable,” said Errol Margolin, an attorney for Runway. “Such a lawsuit is dismissed because there is no corporation, no conspiracy and no illegal conduct.”

Following previous complaints that Runway was overcharging drivers, the Department of Consumer and Labor Protection decided in 2020 not to renew the company’s license to operate in the Big Apple, city officials said. However, Runway still received his extension after receiving a court order for the city to appeal.

“We will carefully investigate the allegations in this complaint and respond to the lawsuit,” City Legal Department spokesman Nick Paolucci said. “The City is committed to protecting consumers and workers and ensuring integrity in its procurement process.”

https://nypost.com/2022/09/17/queens-towing-company-ripping-off-public-with-nypd-blessing-lawsuit/ Queen’s towing company rips off public with NYPD blessing: lawsuit

JACLYN DIAZ

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