A tow truck operator, who sued the city of Pittsburgh in federal court saying police were interfering with his business, filed a motion Tuesday claiming that the bureau was not complying with a subsequent agreement and should be held in contempt.
John F. Halbleib, who runs a Hazelwood-based towing business, sued last month saying that city police were shooing his trucks and others from accident scenes, treating their arrival as interference with police investigations. Police allowed only Beechview-based McGann and Chester, with which the city has a towing contract, to take cars.
That violated a provision of the Motor Carrier Act barring local regulation of the towing business, Mr. Halbleib argued.
Mr. Halbleib's attorneys and the city then reached an agreement, approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell. It allowed the tow truck operators to show up at accident scenes and approach vehicle owners, as long as the owner was not incapacitated or the vehicle was not evidence of a crime.
However, police Chief Nate Harper, according to the contempt motion, issued an order that allowed the private towers to do business only if the vehicles were "off the traveled part of the road." Officers in the field, meanwhile, continued to shoo away all tow trucks except for those of McGann and Chester.
Attorneys for Mr. Halbleib want Chief Harper to issue a new order, consistent with the agreement. They also want $2,000 to cover their costs in filing the contempt motion. City solicitor Dan Regan said the city has tried to comply with the agreement it made in the case.
"We think that our actions were consistent with the original order," he said, "and we intend to respond to the motion and hopefully to resolve any outstanding issues."
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1542.