Suit filed over sheriff’s towing contract
Local companies that lost the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department towing contract have filed a lawsuit against the owner of Gene’s Towing, which won the contract.
The lawsuit, filed June 20 in Pierce County Superior Court, contends that Gene’s owner Michael Myers urged other companies to boycott the contract, then submitted the only bid.
Myers, who did not immediately return a call for comment Friday, has previously denied the allegations. And the Sheriff’s Department has accused the other companies of trying to hold taxpayers hostage with their boycott.
The lawsuit is the latest round in a bitter dispute over the Sheriff’s Department towing contract. Until recently, the department relied on a rotation of more than 30 companies to respond to towing calls.
However, efforts to renew that arrangement foundered. The companies complained they were stuck with waste disposal fees for cars filled with garbage.
The Sheriff’s Department proposed vouchers the companies could use to dispose of garbage, but the companies said the vouchers didn’t cover the costs.
The department later proposed awarding the contract to a single company, which would subcontract with other companies as needed. Gene’s Towing submitted the only bid for that contract.
The lawsuit claims Myers misled the other companies while he was supposed to be representing their interests in negotiations with the county.
They say he advised them not to renew existing contracts and not to bid on the proposed new contract with a single company. And they say he conducted secret negotiations to win the Sheriff’s Department contract.
Myers has disputed that account. He told The News Tribune in March that the other companies sealed their own fate with heavy-handed negotiating tactics.
The Sheriff’s Department has backed Myers’ account, claiming the other companies stopped responding to calls for service in order to pressure the department. The department also has said there were no secret negotiations.
“We believe everything was done legally and ethically, as far as awarding the contract,” Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer said Friday.
David Wickert: 253-274-7341