Every year in late summer, I am reminded of Blake Gresham. On August 27, 2012, Blake, who was a 19 year old local tow operator, was struck and killed while he was towing a vehicle from the side of a Kansas City highway. Both before and after Blake’s death, there have been many other tow operators and other emergency workers killed in the line of the duty despite the fact each of the 50 United States now have some form of a Move Over Law.
Municipal tow contracts have certain requirements that the successful bidder must satisfy. These often include certain types of equipment, minimum insurance, and a satisfactory tow lot. But what are a losing bidder’s legal rights when the successful bidder doesn’t satisfy these requirements and the losing bidder does? Can the losing bidder successfully sue to “win” the contract?
If you perform towing for police departments you have no doubt seen an incomplete police impound inventory. It is not unusual for an investigating officer to miss an item or two when filling out the vehicle tow-in report. But miss a human being?!
In 1995 Congress passed a law, 49 U.S.C. § 14501 (c)(2)(C), giving state and local governments the legal authority to regulate the price charged for ‘‘for-hire motor vehicle transportation by a tow truck, if such transportation is performed without the prior consent or authorization of the owner or operator of the motor vehicle.’’ So-called “nonconsensual” transportation services that are subject to price regulations have been interpreted to include private property tow-aways and police-ordered towing.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that overtime pay (1½ times the regularly hourly rate) must be paid to employees on any hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week unless the employee is exempt. However, employees of your tow company may be exempt from the overtime pay requirement pursuant to the “motor carrier” exemption in Section 13(b)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.