The issue of whether 21 West End Avenue can tow vehicles parked outside the luxury building created some lively debate last month after someone filed a lawsuit against the management company for towing their car. While the lawsuit is proceeding, there have been some significant developments.
The Audi Has Been Returned Free of Charge
Melinda Scott, the plaintiff who filed a lawsuit after her Audi was towed from Freedom Place South between West 61st and West 60th streets, got her car back this week free of charge from Ben & Nino Auto Repair, the towing company that hauled it all the way to Coney Island. The company brought Scott’s Audi to the local dealership and agreed to pay for any damages as part of a February 17 settlement agreement..
Scott Filed an Amended Complaint
The amended complaint filed on Feb. 2 alleges, in sum, that the City Planning Commission never intended to grant any right to 21 West End to use any part of the street as its own private parking lot. Scott cites an October 2010 Commission meeting to argue that the road would be open to the public, including for on-street parking.
“West 60th Street would carry eastbound traffic in a 34-foot roadbed, with on-street parking on the north side and a bike lane on the south, while Freedom Place South would be two-way with a 40-foot roadbed, a bike lane on the west side, and on-street parking on the east. … The Commission notes that while the extensions of West 60th Street and Freedom Place within the project site would not be mapped streets, they would be designed to look and feel like regular New York City streets, and public access would be guaranteed through public access easements established through the project’s restrictive declaration.”
Scott further maintains that the tow signage and notice used by 21 West End is defective, noting that it lacks information about the towing company and the local police station was not notified of the tow, as required under the City’s Administrative Code, according to the complaint.
21 West End Avenue Filed Its Response
21 West End Avenue, represented by Ingram Yuzek Gainen Carroll & Bertolotti, LLP, claims that the space where Scott’s Audi was towed from is “entirely privately owned, subject only to a specifically delineated public access easement ‘for the purposes of: (1) pedestrian access; and (2) emergency vehicle access and general vehicular ingress and egress,’ as set forth in a Restrictive Declaration reviewed and approved by the New York City Counsel and duly recorded in the Office of the City Register.”
Relying on this private property argument, 21 West End also claims that it does not need to comply with signage requirements that Scott alleges are necessary under the City’s Administrative Code. It also contests that her claims of emotional distress will fail because, in essence, far more severe claims of emotional distress have been dismissed in other cases.
Read About Other Lawsuits on the Upper West Side
But 21 West End Posted New Towing Signs Since the Lawsuit Was Filed
Despite its counsel arguing that 21 West End does not need to comply with the City’s codes that require naming the towing company, a new sign posted in front of the building seeks to deem the street a “private parking lot” and lists information for a towing company. However, whoever ordered that sign might want to check in with the attorneys, because the response filed on behalf of 21 West End specifically informed the court that “the portion of Freedom Place South from which Plaintiff was towed is neither a public street nor a private parking lot.”
A New Towing Company?
It looks like the company that towed Scott’s Audi – Ben & Nino Auto Repair – is out of the picture. A company called Limited Edition is named on the sign. We called the number (917-318-5305) and the person who answered did identify itself as a towing company – though not a single Google result shows up for a company by this name and phone number.
Attorneys for 21 West End Avenue did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
If the space is a private street connected parking lot, then the building needs to pay for things like snow removal for the entirety of the “parking lot”.
Right, there’s been no snow in NYC so far this winter.
Stick it up your you know what 21 West End! Ha! I’m going to park there just for the fun of it.
Somebody should throw bricks through their windows,