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Exclusive: Lawsuit Filed Against NYC Towing Company Accused Of Deceiving Thousands Of Customers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A New York City towing company is accused of deceiving drivers by allegedly overcharging and holding vehicles hostage.

It's all detailed in a new class action lawsuit that claims there are thousands of victims.

It happens every day -- a car breaks down or is impounded due to insurance or registration problems.

For one driver, who we'll call Mike, it was the latter.

The NYPD called Runway Towing. He says he resolved the issue within hours, but he couldn't get his car for days.

"I seen people in the office and in the yard. I called them on the phone, they said that, 'We're closed,'" Mike told CBS2's Lisa Rozner.

But legally, tow companies are required to release vehicles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Attorney Gary Rosen is filing a federal class action lawsuit against Runway.

"When you get towed on a highway, there's a specific tow bill that you're supposed to be given," Rosen said.

A former driver at Runway Towing who left the company after a dispute showed CBS2 the legal receipt. It has the legal rate for a tow, which is $125 for the first 10 miles and a consumer bill of rights.

But he says employees often hand out a different receipt. The rate is allegedly what the supervisor determines.

"Regular pricing $150," the former driver said. "But, like, if you're driving a Mercedes Benz, a BMW, whatever, of that sort, it was $225 or better."

The Brooklyn Queens Expressway is one of several highways where Runway Towing has the exclusive contract with the NYPD. The lawsuit claims that's why Runway was able to get away with overcharging.

That's why Rosen says a lawsuit is planned against the NYPD and the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, who he says looked the other way when customers complained.

Consumer Affairs said it couldn't comment, and the NYPD said it is looking into it.

The attorney for Runway Towing, Errol Margolin, says the company denies the allegations.

"All the allegations are deficient in a number of ways. The allegations don't identify by name, the name of the consumer. They don't identify the plate number," Margolin said. "I think this is an attempt by somebody ... to smear Runway with false allegations."

He says Runway plans to fight the lawsuit while consumers fight to get their money back.

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