May 14, 2005
Mesa colluded with Cactus Towing lawyer David Udall to assure that Cactus would be the recipient of the city’s towing contract, a lawsuit filed Friday claims.
The Maricopa County Superior Court lawsuit filed by competing towing company Daryl’s Towing names as defendants Mesa, the mayor and vice mayor, city employees and Cactus Towing.
The lawsuit claims Daryl’s Towing is the rightful winner of the original bid — that was improperly thrown out by city officials — and it should be awarded the city contract.
The filing comes as the Arizona Attorney General’s Office is investigating the city’s handling of the contract, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office continues its criminal investigation into the operations of Cactus Towing. No charges have been filed against Mesa officials or Cactus Towing executives.
Daryl’s Towing general manager Chad Gammage said he wanted the city to remedy the situation, but felt at this point he had no other choice.
"We didn’t rush out and file a lawsuit, but Mesa chose to be defiant and uncooperative," Gammage said.
The complaint also asks for the court to intervene and not allow Mesa to award the pending contract.
In a January 2004 bid, United Road Services finished first, followed by Daryl’s Towing and Cactus Towing. The lawsuit claims URS would have been forced to default and Daryl’s Towing should have been the winner. However, Udall met secretly with deputy city attorney Joe Padilla to complain about the bid, the lawsuit states. The city then threw out that bid and re-bid, this time with Cactus Towing being the winner.
The City Council, however, did not award the contract and sent out a third proposal, which is still under review.
Cactus Towing attorney Kent Nicholas, who had not seen the lawsuit, said: "My impression is that the competitors are frustrated that the city bids are going to be coming out and they are going to do whatever they can to frustrate Cactus Towing."
City Attorney Debbie Spinner said she had not yet had an opportunity to review the lawsuit and had no comment. Udall declined to comment.
In March, the sheriff ’s office raided Cactus Towing, the homes of owner Lee Watkins and general manager Todd DeMasseo and a storage unit, taking away about 200 boxes of business records, computers and cash.
Four companies, including Cactus Towing, submitted proposals in February for the city contract. A contract award is not expected until June or later. Meanwhile, Cactus Towing continues as the city’s towing provider.