NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow and the state Division of Consumer Affairs announced a lawsuit on Tuesday against an Irvington-based towing company and its owner.

The lawsuit alleges that Gilliam Towing and owner Marlin Gilliam illegally used spotters to target vehicles and failed to provide proper notice to motorists in the parking lots it patrolled in violation of the Predatory Towing Prevention Act and the Consumer Fraud Act. Dow alleges that the acts were violated when vehicles were towed from three private parking lots located in Newark.

"We allege that this towing company engaged in precisely those predatory towing practices that our laws prohibit," Dow said. "Through unlawful surveillance and inadequate signage, this company watched and waited for unsuspecting motorists. Through this action and our ongoing initiative, every tower is on notice that this conduct will not be tolerated."

Dow is seeking customer restitution, reimbursement of the state's investigative and legal costs, the assessment of civil penalties against the defendants, and compliance with the Predatory Towing Prevention Act and the Consumer Fraud Act.

The Predatory Towing Prevention Act prohibits towing companies from failing to release a vehicle that has been hooked or lifting, but that has not actually been removed from private property, upon request of the vehicles owner; charging an unreasonable or excessive fee; trolling, or cruising, for vehicles parked without authorization; charging for a towing or storage service not on the division's schedule of services; paying for information about vehicles parked without authorization; and refusing to accept an insurance company check or a debit card, charge card, credit card or check for towing or storage services if the towing company ordinarily accepts such payment at its place of business.

Rhe action against Gilliam Towing is the fourth towing company the division has taken action against since March as part of a public statewide crackdown.

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