In a hearing at the Maywood circuit court last week, Michelle Broecker, 19, proved that sometimes you can fight city hall.
Broecker, a Riverside resident, argued that a towing company hired by the village had improperly towed her 1999 Chevrolet Suburban and asked that it be returned to her at no charge. Broecker’s SUV was booted May 31 and then towed June 3 by H&R Auto Repair because of unpaid tickets. However, those tickets were issued to the woman’s father, Fred Broecker, who owned the vehicle previously.
When she learned the car had been impounded, Michelle Broecker and her father sought legal action against what they deemed an invalid tow. The judge agreed with their assessment and ordered the company hired by the village to surrender the vehicle.
Representatives from H&R Auto Repair, 805 Hannah Ave., declined to comment on the case and an attorney who spoke on the business’ behalf referred comments to Village Administrator Mike Sturino. During the Sept. 24 hearing, attorney Sharon O’Shea told the judge she was not in court on behalf of the towing company, but represented the village’s interests in the case.
Forest Park was not named as a party to the replevin complaint, which sought strictly to restore ownership.
According to Village Administrator Mike Sturino, H&R is often employed by Forest Park to tow for issues like unpaid parking tickets, as was the case here. O’Shea was in court to provide information on the details of the case and was not acting as an attorney for the towing company, said Sturino. She has a retainer with the village and Sturino said he was unsure if there would be a separate bill for this case.
Sturino described Fred Broecker’s unpaid tickets as “excessive.”
Fred Broecker manages an online message board, forestparkforums.com, which has drawn the ire of village officials for years. In recent weeks he has posted lengthy arguments to the site under a pseudonym, detailing why he disagreed with the actions of the towing company and the village.
Fred Broecker is a resident of Forest Park, his daughter lives in Riverside.
The judge concluded that the unpaid tickets were irrelevant because those fees are the responsibility of Fred Broecker, who is not the vehicle’s current owner. The collection of any storage fees the towing company intended to charge for holding the Suburban must be sought in small claims court, the judge said.