LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -
When you have a complaint about how much a wrecker service charged you for a tow, you file it with the Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board.
One Mabelvale company appeared to answer to six complaints on Tuesday.
Channel 7 was there for the first five hours of the hearing. Here is some of what we heard.
"Nothing has changed," wrecker service operator James Lawhon told a board member at one point. "You've got to realize...this...I think you're kind of incompetent here. This is a separate day."
"No sir. I am not incompetent," replied the offended board member. "And I don't appreciate you saying that."
"He didn't mean any offense by it," quickly offered Lawhon's attorney Kyle Mayton.
"But I took it as an offense," responded the board member. "I am not incompetent."
James Lawhon wasn't helping himself by insulting a member of the board that would be deciding his fate in the face of six customer complaints.
"If you'll let me explain here..." said Lawhon at one point while being questioned by board members.
Lawhon had trouble explaining why he towed a car and cleaned up an accident scene right in front of his business before the police had a chance to arrive and investigate.
The board fined him $500.00.
"At the time...just to be honest with you..." Lawhon said to preface one of his comment to the board.
And Lawhon also had trouble justifying charging $200.00 an hour for a crew of four to clear the highway of an upright 18 wheeler.
"I'm not going to comment any more on that," Lawhon said while being crossed by the state's attorney. "That's kind of going out of bounds."
That total bill...with storage fees and other hard to explain charges...totaled over $8,500.00.
"Like I said...I'm not trying to be dishonest in any way," Lawhon told board members at one point.
The board fined Lawhon $5,000.00, finding that he violated the state standard of charging "reasonable" amounts for services. He was fined an additional $250.00 for failing to sent written notice to the owner of the semi truck.
"Again...I understand how this statement is going to be looked at..." said Lawhon at one point during the hearing.
You can't blame Lawhon for feeling a little picked on.
All the complaints heard at the hearing were against him, and some were more than two years old.
"So I just didn't understand how we lump up six complaints against one company when we know of at least 174 other complaints in the same time frame as this complaint," argued Lawhon. "You know it's kind of...I find it ironic."
James Lawhon has the right to appeal any of the decisions made by the Board.
But if he loses or if he chooses just to pay the fines unfortunately none of the people complaining about his tow services will collect any of that money.
Air date: November 20th, 2013
The hearing wrapped up at 6:30. Here is the results of each complaint, including the two reported above. Every complaint was found to be in violation:
Complaint 2012-11-050, $500.00 fine.
Complaint 2014-09-028, $5,250.00 fine.
Complaint 2013-03-057, $5,000.00 fine.
Complaint 2014-08-017, $250.00 fine.
Complaint 2013-11-038, $250.00 fine.
Complaint 2012-08-022, $250.00 fine.
Also, because Lawhon's Towing and Hauling was found guilty of multiple violations a 30 day license suspension was accessed.