Court of appeals reverses, remands car towing case

By Gabriel Neves | Mar 15, 2019

HOUSTON -- A Harris County man who had his car towed and who lost a decision at a hearing regardiong towing and fees, has obtained a victory on appeal.

State Justice Frances Bourliot of the Texas 14th District Court of Appeals, issued an eight-page ruling Feb. 26, reversing the Harris County Fourth District Civil Court decision in the lawsuit filed by Fidelis Johnson Badaki against Classic Towing, Pine Forest Park Place and American Eagle Auto Storage.

The appeals court reversed the dismissal of the case by the lower court, sending the case back to the Fourth Court for further proceedings.

Badaki appealed at a hearing, in which he was forced to pay for storage fees for having his car towed from an apartment complex where he lived.

As stated in the ruling, "on Feb. 10, 2017, Bryan Miller, doing bsuiness as Classic Towing, towed Badaiki’s car from the parking lot of his apartment complex, Pine Forest Park Place, to American Eagle Auto Storage. Badaiki subsequently paid towing and storage fees of $294.16 to recover the car. Badaiki then requested a tow hearing in justice court. 

"In his request, Badaiki disputed that his car was properly towed because (1) he was not required to have a permit under his lease agreement, (2) he displayed a valid permit on his car, and (3) he did not receive advance notice of the tow. Badaiki’s request included the identities and contact information for the person or facility authorizing the removal [the apartment complex] and the towing company."

After a first hearing, the lower court decided Badaki's car had no permit for parking at the complex.

"Badaiki then filed a de novo appeal in county civil court," the appeals court said. "During the hearing, in which Badaiki appeared pro se, he informed the judge that he was authorized to park in the parking lot under an addendum to his lease agreement with the apartment complex, which did not require him to display a permit. 

"He further testified that he had a valid permit sticker in any event and it was displayed on his windshield. And he complained that advance notice was not provided that the car would be towed.  In the county court at law, as in the justice court, the towing company appeared by counsel. Although the apartment complex was apparently not represented by counsel at the hearing, the apartment manager was present and sworn as a witness but did not testify." 

The court decided that, per the ruling, "because Badaiki claimed he was authorized to park in the lot, the court was without jurisdiction to hear the appeal of the tow hearing," dismissing the case.

In her ruling, Bourliot stated that "the county civil court at law erred in dismissing Badaiki’s appeal for want of jurisdiction," reversing the dismissal and sending the case back to the civil court.

Texas 14th District Court of Appeals case number 14-17-00450-CV

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