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Lawsuit targets Tampa parking, towing companies

Law firm Morgan & Morgan has filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status following a 10Investigates story into questionable towing practices by Tampa-based 717 Parking and its leading towing partner, Target Recovery & Transport.
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TAMPA, Florida - Law firm Morgan & Morgan has filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status following a 10Investigates story into questionable towing practices by Tampa-based 717 Parking Enterprises and its leading towing partner, Target Recovery & Transport.

The lawsuit accuses 717 and Target Recovery of "unlawful, unfair, deceptive and unconscionable practices," including failing to provide parking receipts when drivers paid attendants in cash, towing away vehicles inappropriately, and overcharging those drivers in violation of Hillsborough County ordinances.

10Investigates exposed, following a number of viewer complaints, how Target Recovery improperly assessed after-hours fees at nights and on weekends, and also charged a prohibited $25 private parking fine to drivers towed from 717 lots, even in some cases where those drivers had appeared to pay attendants in cash.

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The lawsuit, filed last week in Hillsborough County, also alleges the defendants broke the law by "accepting money for the privilege of towing or removing from a particular location" and seeks "damages in excess of $15,000, exclusive of interest, attorneys’ fees and costs and jurisdiction properly lies with this Court."

If class action status is granted by the court, any driver improperly towed or ticketed by Target Recovery or 717 Parking may be eligible for damages.

RELATED: How to get a refund if wrongly towed

When 10Investigates first reported on 717 and Target complaints in May, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission (PTC) had done little in reaction to the violations of the county wrecker rules.

But after the story aired, the Hillsborough PTC audited 30 days' worth of Target towing receipts and issued fines for improper after-hours fees and for assessing improper private parking fines on behalf of 717. 10Investigates continued to expose improper charges later in the summer as well and the PTC is continuing to investigate, with additional fines possible.

717 President & CEO Jason Accardi emailed the following statement to 10Investigates Monday:

At Seven One Seven Parking Enterprises, we have built our company based on providing the best parking services possible, hiring the best employees and always being accessible and accountable to our customers. We promote a professional and engaging atmosphere at all times. Our reputation and integrity are of utmost importance to us and we have experienced great success based upon our great reputation and how we treat people with dignity and respect in all situations. We strive to provide safe & convenient parking options for the citizens and patrons of the Tampa bay & surrounding areas.

However, since this matter is the subject of a pending litigation, we are unable to comment with specific detail as it relates to this litigation and we will respond appropriately to the lawsuit. We are confident that our position will be clarified throughout the litigation process and we will continue to manage and operate all of Seven One Seven Parking’s parking facilities with the utmost integrity and highest quality service, while treating everyone we encounter with dignity and respect, always intending to maintain and preserve the safety and best interest of our valued patrons.

Target Recovery owner Kris Grau did not yet respond to a Sunday evening email.

VIEWERS: Have you been unfairly towed or ticketed from a 717 Parking lot? Email 10Investigates' Noah Pransky confidentially at npransky@wtsp.com, or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.

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