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Appeals court rules in favor of man who sued tow company for strict liability, conspiracy and negligence

Lawsuits

By Charmaine Little | Nov 19, 2019

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HOUSTON – A towing company facing a lawsuit from a man who was assaulted after his car was towed had a summary judgment in its favor reversed and remanded in the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas on Nov. 14.

Edilberto Vasquez Delcid filed a lawsuit against J.C. Towing and Recovery Inc., and owner Julian Carmona, for strict liability via the Texas Vehicle Towing and Booting Act. Delcid also sued for conspiracy and negligence, claiming that he was physically assaulted while waiting for a ride after his car was towed. He appealed the 152nd District Court’s no-evidence summary judgment, and the appeals court reversed and remanded.

Justice Peter Kelly wrote the opinion as Justices Richard Hightower and Julie Countiss concurred.


Texas First District Court of Appeals Justice Richard Hightower | txcourts.gov

Vasquez's lawsuit claimed that J.C. Towing did not have insurance when they towed his car.

“The holder of a towing permit must maintain liability insurance for each tow truck, and a permit holder who performs non-consent must maintain $300,000 of liability insurance per tow truck and $50,000 of cargo insurance,” the appeals court wrote in its decision.

The court added that when requested, a party is required to divulge any agreements related to indemnity and insurance. Vasquez filed said request, and J.C. Towing said that there were not any agreements. Carmona also said in his deposition that J.C Towing should not have been using tow trucks if it did not have insurance. However, Carmona never said that J.C. Towing was not insured.

The appeals court said in its decision that it was reasonable to conclude that J.C. Towing violated the act.

Vasquez's lawsuit also claimed that J.C. Towing’s signage did not follow the statute that "a bright red international towing symbol, which is a solid silhouette of a tow truck towing a vehicle on a generally rectangular white background must appear on the uppermost portion of a sign or a separate sign placed immediately above the sign,” according to the appeals court's opinion. Vasquez said he showed sufficient evidence of this claim.

He showed pictures along with Carmona’s deposition to prove his case. Carmona could not confirm if the sign was posted when Vasquez’s car was towed.

Vasquez realized his car had been towed while at an apartment complex. He was waiting for a ride when he said strangers approached him and robbed and assaulted him. He was taken to an emergency room and later went to get his car. 

While J.C. Towing did not charge him for the towing or for keeping his car, Vasquez sued the apartment complex, its management company, J.C. Towing and Carmona. The appeals court ruled that it could be concluded that the incorrect signage was used before Vasquez’s car was towed.

The appeals court also agreed with Vasquez’s argument, and against J.C. Towing’s claim that he did not have any evidence to show causation in his strict liability cause.

“A plaintiff suing under chapter 2308 need not prove negligence,” the appeals court ruled. “We conclude that J.C. Towing was not entitled to summary judgment because Vasquez came forward with more than a scintilla of evidence as to the challenged element of a statutory violation and he was not required to respond to the incorrect causation challenge raised by J.C. Towing.”

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