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U.S. Supreme Court rules in N.H. towing case

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that federal trucking laws don’t pre-empt a state claim against a New Hampshire towing company.

The court ruled Monday in a Manchester case involving Robert Pelkey, who lived at an apartment complex in 2007 when he had to go a hospital for an infection and suffered a heart attack. He used a handicapped parking spot and left his car parked there while he was hospitalized.

The car was towed by Dan’s City Auto Body when it wasn’t moved during a winter parking ban and then sat in the towing business’s lot for two months. The shop believed it was abandoned. It eventually took ownership of the car and traded it.

Pelkey sued Dan’s City Auto Body under the Consumer Protection Act. The case ended up in the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which overturned a superior court’s finding and ruled in his favor.

The attorney for the tow company appealed, citing federal trucking laws that were passed in the 1980s to unify trucking and tow regulations among all the states.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case in March.

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