PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Retriever Towing, one of the state’s largest towing operations, accusing the company of illegal tows.
The complaint, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges Retriever illegally towed vehicles from parking lots without signed authorization from the property owner, in violation of reforms that the Oregon Legislature passed in 2017 to crack down on so-called predatory towing.
The lawsuit claims that most consumers who had vehicles towed illegally by Retriever never got a refund. Some people who could not afford to pay towing fees lost their vehicles at auction, according to the lawsuit.
"The purpose of the 2017 towing reforms was to put an end to predatory towing practices that cost consumers hundreds of dollars just to recover their car," Attorney General Rosenblum said in a statement. "Retriever told us it was reforming its business practice, but it never did. We hope this lawsuit will send a message to all towing companies around the state that they’ll be held accountable for violating the law."
Retriever Towing operates in the Portland metro area and Salem. The Oregon Department of Justice opened its investigation into the company in 2018. Since then, the state has received roughly 260 complains about the company.
The Attorney General's office said Retriever was involved in nearly a quarter of all towing complaints it has received over the past 20 years.
Multiple viewers who spoke to KGW during an after a 2017 investigation into the company reported being hit with fees in excess of $400 to regain their vehicles after Retriever towed them.
KGW tried to reach Retriever and the company’s lawyers for comment. No one replied.