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Attorney General Josh Stein Gets Temporary Restraining Order Against Alleged COVID-19 Price Gouger

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced that he obtained a temporary restraining order against Charlotte-based A1 Towing Solutions, Inc. and its owner David Jewel Satterfield for allegedly violating North Carolina’s price gouging statute and engaging in deceptive trade practices and unfair debt collection practices during the COVID-19 state of emergency in North Carolina. The restraining order bans them from the towing business in North Carolina until a court hearing.

“As North Carolinians were waiting on critical supplies to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, these defendants were exploiting the situation for their own profit,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Any would-be price gouger should take note – my office will hold you accountable for harming people in this time of crisis.”

Attorney General Stein’s lawsuit alleges that the defendants improperly and predatorily booted or towed trucks that were delivering food, water, bleach, or needed medical supplies during this pandemic and in spite of the trucks’ drivers having the necessary permission of property owners to park their trucks on the property. After towing or booting the trucks, the defendants allegedly forced drivers to pay exorbitant amounts – up to $4,400.00 – for their release. The defendants also allegedly engaged in other illegal practices, including but not limited to double-booting a tractor and its attached trailer to double the price for removing the boots, charging inflated fees for use of a credit card and bogus fees for filings with the DMV, and threatening to increase fees for the release of the trucks unless the drivers paid immediately.

As a result of A1 Towing Solutions and Satterfield’s actions, drivers were delayed in delivering critical supplies needed in North Carolina and other states to respond to the pandemic. Attorney General Stein is seeking temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief against the defendants, as well as restitution for victims, civil penalties, and other relief.

North Carolina’s price gouging law went into effect on March 10, 2020, when Gov. Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney General Stein and the North Carolina Department of Justice will be reviewing price gouging complaints from consumers closely and are prepared to take action against any businesses engaging in price gouging activities. To date, consumers have filed 1,763 complaints with the office. If you are concerned about a seller charging an unreasonably excessive price, please report potential price gouging by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint at https://ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint/price-gouging/.

A copy of the complaint is available here.

A copy of the temporary restraining order is available here.

More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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