TRENTON, N.J. - (AP) -- Score one for anyone who has experienced the dual shock of having a car towed and then looking at the bill.
A New Jersey appeals court ruled Thursday in favor of three people who claimed they were overcharged by towing companies in separate incidents.
In reversing lower court decisions in the three cases, the three-judge panel also ruled the plaintiffs can seek to gain certification to file class-action lawsuits.
The three cases involved a car towed in River Edge because its registration had expired; a car that was parked illegally in Newark; and another that was involved in an accident in East Rutherford.
The court held that the towing companies violated state laws when they charged various fees that in one case amounted to an additional $75. One company imposed a $40 "yard charge" and a $13 credit card surcharge that the court ruled weren't allowed under New Jersey's Predatory Towing Prevention Act.
Lower courts had previously ruled the towing companies' fees were within the boundaries of the law, and that the plaintiffs should have exhausted administrative remedies before filing suit.