Some of my favorite cases are tow companies that are either selling their business or purchasing another business. The reason I enjoy this kind of work is that (usually), no one is mad or sad. No one has been stiffed on a tow bill. No one has been hurt or killed. Instead, the parties are entering into a transaction which will hopefully make them money, which makes them happy.
The other day, I received another phone call from a tow company being sued for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which regulates minimum wage, overtime pay, and record keeping for most employers. Every time I get a call such as this, I experience two competing emotions: I am sad for the tow company getting sued because I know the road ahead will be wildly expensive and likely not end with a good result. However, I also experience a twinge of anger at the tow company for not implementing basic measures to avoid these types of lawsuits.
I had a client tell me an all too familiar story the other day. His tow company was in a dispute with a trucking company over the amount of the bill. While the dispute raged on, the tow company continued to hold the truck, trailer, and cargo. One day when push finally came to shove, the tow company received a letter from a fancy downtown law firm threatening to sue the tow company for replevin and other causes of action if the tow company did not release the truck, etc. while the dispute over the bill continued.
Believe it or not, some of the most contentious cases I’ve had for tow companies have been legal issues surrounding their municipal zoning. Zoning and ordinance are designed to control what kinds of activities can occur within a particular “zone.” Some uses, such as residential or light retail activities, are permitted in almost any zone. However, other uses, such as salvage yards or waste disposal facilities, will only be allowed in isolated areas that are heavily regulated.