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Kansas City rolls out new refund process for improper tows

Legal changes follow settlement with ACLU of Missouri 

The City of Kansas City has created a way to help drivers recover tow and storage fees if they believe their vehicles have been towed in error.

In May 2018, the ACLU sued the City of Kansas City and the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners for failing to provide a sufficient recourse for citizens who believe that their vehicles were improperly towed.

In December, the City Council approved an ordinance that allows people to seek a refund of tow and storage fees.

“The new process will give vehicle owners an opportunity to have their tow and storage fees evaluated,” according to John A. Wood, the City’s Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department director, “as we continue to work to ensure that City ordinances are enforced fairly and accurately.”  

The city has developed an application and launched a webpage where people can download a form to apply for refund and get a description of the process:

Flyers and posters to educate the public on this new process are also being distributed throughout the city.

“I’m glad that Kansas City drivers are now able to keep their hard-earned money when law enforcement makes a mistake in towing their car,” said Dyanna Black, plaintiff in the ACLU case. “As a resident, I am pleased to see the city’s efforts to right this wrong.”

Black parked her car on a public street in February 2016. When she returned, Black discovered that her car had been towed. After she paid the tow fee, she decided to see if should could apply for a refund because she believed her car was improperly towed. That's when she discovered that the city did not have an ordinance or formal process addressing tow refunds. She contacted the ACLU, which then filed the lawsuit.

“We’re pleased the city was so willing to work with us and has passed an ordinance that now provides due process for citizens to seek refunds of tow and storage fees,” said Gillian Wilcox, staff attorney, ACLU of Missouri.

You can learn more about the refund process here:

Each year more than 21,000 vehicles are towed to the city's tow lot. Almost half were either abandoned, involved in police activity or in an accident. The facility on Front Street, just east of I-435 is LEED Gold certified.   


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