NYC Mayor: City Should Pay For Vehicle Crunched By Tow Truck

Here’s an update to yesterday’s story about that New York City tow truck caught on camera repeatedly smashing into a snowbound Ford Explorer.

In a press conference, Mayor Mike “why did I run for a third term?” Bloomberg admitted the city’s culpability in the matter… well, sort of.

“I’ll leave it to the lawyers but I assume we probably are responsible if our plow hits them,” said the mayor. “I don’t know any reason why we wouldn’t be, but it’s a question for our lawyers and if you talk to our lawyer department, they’d be happy to give you an answer to that.”

If you haven’t watched the snowy demolition derby yet, here’s the clip:

Mayor Says City Likely To Pay For Plow Incident Caught On YouTube [NY1]

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  1. Hoss says:

    In fairness to the mayor, he seems to be watching his words not knowing all the facts instead of making shit up on the fly

  2. konakonachanchan says:

    Paying for the car is different from letting the insurance company give them the blue book value which buys them a car which is nowhere near as good as the first.

  3. obits3 says:

    “All cars without ‘I

    /sarc

  4. DarthCoven says:

    Ya think they’re responsible? It’s a city owned vehicle! The city pays for it either way. My question is: what the hell is a city owned vehicle doing parked near the employee’s home overnight? I was under the impression that these vehicles are not for commuting, yet there it is, covered in snow because the employee had it there at least Sunday night, if not straight through the weekend.

    • JoeDawson says:

      Many Municipalities give cars to administrators at higher levels for personal use, as part of their compensation package.

      • DarthCoven says:

        Not ones with “Official” license plates on them (they have special numbers and literally say “Official” on them). These are vehicles that are specified for “Official Use Only” and are supposed to be used only for conducting business for the City of New York.

        • jebarringer says:

          Ummm, sometimes yes they do. Certain higher-ups where I live get vehicles complete with town logo on the side and “local gov’t” plates, for driving to and from work (and limited other personal use). Thus, it’s perfectly legit for one to be parked in front of someone’s home.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Where does it say this is a city vehicle?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Well, it does make sense to have the plows spread out, and not in centralized locations, so that they don’t get stuck somewhere.

      But was this parked in front of somewhere, or did this get stuck while working? I ask because how did that multi-ton winch truck get down the street? As someone who needs to drive his Olsdmobile Cutlass Ciera around the driveway to clear the way for our Dodge 3500 Dualie pick-up, trucks like that don’t get very good traction.

      • DarthCoven says:

        No, I’m referring to the SUV, not the front end loader. The SUV is a city owned vehicle.

      • lucky13 says:

        The weight distribution in your Cutlass is more even front to rear. You need more weight in the back of your pickup for traction in snow – a couple hundred pounds of sandbags will do the trick. If the added weight is not enough, add some tire chains to the rear wheels and you’ll be able to go anywhere in the snow.

    • Rachacha says:

      Perhaps this person’s job was deemed “Mission critical” and because of the impending snow storm, he/she was authorized to use a government owned SUV to give her a better chance of getting into work to help manage the storm (or perform whatever functions were deemed critical)

      Having grown up in an area that receives a lot of snow each year, and having been through the massive snowstorms that hit the DC area early in 2010, I can say that you stand a better chance of getting from point A to Point B if you have a truck or an SUV because of its higher ground clearance and 4 wheel drive. That said, even though I was able to get out and about much earlier than others because I had an SUV, I had to wait until someone with a much larger vehicle than I had ran up and down my street a couple of times to tamp down the snow so I would have enough ground clearance to drive.

      While it is possible that the use of the vehicle was not warranted, it may have been authorized for this individual on a temporary or permanent basis. In such situations, employees are typically asked to pay for any mileage they use the vehicle for personal use (such as commuting to/from the office).

      • DarthCoven says:

        I hope you’re right. I’ve already submitted my question to CBS. I don’t think I’ll get an answer, but it’s worth it to get the issue out there.

        • mrstu says:

          Given that some cars were supposedly abandoned on the streets when the storm got bad, I’d say it’s also a possibility worth exploring that he simply parked it there because he couldn’t get it back where it belonged, due to snow and all.

    • kc2idf says:

      I heard that the other day, that it was a city-owned vehicle. I don’t think this makes sense, thoguh, because the City is behaving as though it were privately owned. As such, no reason it shouldn’t be at a private home.

      That said, there are perfectly good reasons for an employer-owned vehicle to be at an employee’s home.

      • DarthCoven says:

        It is definitely a city owned vehicle. I have posted enough sources that this should no longer be a question.

        I am still scouring the interwebs for some form of employee handbook regarding the use of city vehicles and why this guy would have it parked outside his home overnight through the storm.

    • jaya9581 says:

      I think you’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter that it’s a city-owned vehicle. The truck/plow drivers have NO WAY to know that. Let’s say it wasn’t the city-owned car – let’s say it was YOUR car. Now is it an issue for you?

  5. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Well, I have no doubt that they will pay. When my local gov hit the sign that has been in the same spot since we moved in over 6 years ago, they sent out a crew to repair the post (couldn’t replace it since some moron sunk it with at least 5 bags of concrete in a bell shape that extended out 2′ from the center point. ;D ). They were very nice about it, but I will admit it took them a few days to come out and investigate. But since it was county Gov, I expected that.

    • Hoss says:

      If the repair job looks like a repair job, I would have expected reimbursement for a new sign put in place, or at least they could sent a backhoe to do it right

  6. Portlandia says:

    “if you talk to our lawyer department”…Lawyer Department?

    Is he taking speech classes from Sarah Palin?

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      To be fair, it’s less a “department” and more of a “sty”

  7. Ouze says:

    Wow, that’s guy’s audio commentary really added some useful insight to the video.

    • jeepguy57 says:

      I also think he was being overly dramatic. The city was in a complete mess and and the clock was ticking. Granted, professionals should have been able to handle that machine better, but in an emergency you do what you have to do and deal with the consequences later (provided it’s material damage, not human injury).

      And f-bombs really make him sound classy.

      • lucky13 says:

        After watching the video you still assume that either the tow truck driver or the loader operator were professionals? It’s pretty obvious they were NOT!

  8. majortom1981 says:

    Like somebody else linked the damaged car is a city owned car anyway SOO of course they will pay for it . The city owns the damaged car anyway.

  9. SG-Cleve says:

    The car in front was also damaged.

    But how many times do careless workers cause damage that is not caught on video and the owner is stuck with the repair bill?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      As long as you can prove the damage, and you weren’t breaking the law by having the vehicle where it was, they will pay after investigating the claim.

  10. anime_runs_my_life says:

    *snerks* Lawyer Department? He fumbled badly on that. Legal Department is the more appropriate term.

    As for the damaged vehicles, I’m sure the insurance company will be going after the right department since the video evidence suggests negligence not only on the part of the plow, but the tow truck driver as well.

    And it’s not just the city owned vehicle that’s damaged, but that vehicle also hit the car parked in front of it. I’m sure there’s some damage from that too.

    • DarthCoven says:

      The car in front which, according to the articles I’ve posted above, is owned by the same guy who was responsible for the city owned SUV. It was his daughter’s car, apparently.

    • Crim Law Geek says:

      In fairness, in NYC it is actually the Law Department that would handle this sort of thing

  11. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I’d heard the Sani Dept say this is a pretty “common occurrence” in the winter, and never heard NYC say they’ll pay for it…but then again they may not have posted the events on YouTube…. :)

    Btw, I like how Bloomberg refers to it as the “lawyer department”. Simple pleasures, I guess…

  12. The cake is a lie! says:

    This is why it is illegal to park on the curb after November 15th in Salt Lake. Plows can’t do their job with cars around. The plow driver is totally responsible for this problem though. They could have found the owner of the truck or towed it away first before smashing the hell out of it with a front end loader. I don’t know why it is even in question. They knew they were smashing it and they kept doing it anyway.

    • DarthCoven says:

      Here in NYC we have something called “Snow Emergency Routes” which are the main thoroughfares through most neighborhoods. If the Mayor declares a “Snow Emergency”, residents must move their vehicles from these roadways or they will be towed away. The Fire Commissioner wanted the Mayor to declare an emergency to make it easier for police, fire and EMT vehicles to get around, but Bloomberg thought he knew better than his peon and shot him down.

      The “Snow Emergency Route” would likely not apply in this case, as it happened on a side street.

    • RandomHookup says:

      NYC doesn’t have enough alternate parking space to accommodate all the cars without using the streets. Most East Coast cities don’t have the kind of space around them that an SLC does.

      • The cake is a lie! says:

        Right, but I was just saying it is the reason we can’t do it here. It mainly applies to residential areas in the burbs, which NYC doesn’t have a lot of. it is something the city should be prepared for at any rate. Any damage caused by city vehicles (garbage trucks, snow plows, police cars, etc) is the responsibility of the city. The question of liability is a no brainer.

        We had a lot of construction here prior to the olympics. Utah Department of Transportation was inundated with broken windshield claims from rocks popping off the gravel trucks everywhere. They had to repaint cars, replace windshields, and pay all sorts of damages. Now they have signs on the back of their trucks stating they aren’t responsible if you are tailgating them and get a rock chip. So unless they have put out a statement (like the one the mayor rejected) they are going to be responsible for the damage they cause.

        • SarcasticDwarf says:

          Unless Utah is unlike most other places those signs are essentially meaningless and completely unenforceable.

          • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

            Having lived in Utah for 20 years, I would not be surprised if the signs were enforceable. The SLC valley is like a bubble in the time continuum.

            Here’s a couple examples:
            1) If your employer keeps paying you with rubber checks month after month and you file a complaint, they have cause to fire you and you will not get unemployment. ‘Right to Work’

            2) If you are disabled and get federal disability pay, the state intercepts it to pay for the overhead (hundreds of workers) of testing and preventing fraud. At the time I lived there, only six people in the entire state qualified to get the money for being blind or deaf. Move to any other state and your federal dollars will flow again.

  13. DoktorGoku says:

    “Our lawyer department”

  14. The cake is a lie! says:

    I wonder whatever happened to the same situation back in February?

    http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/spotlight/news-article.aspx?storyid=152258&catid=142

    This kind of think happens all the time. I’m sure the lawyer department is used to it.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      Just doing some digging on the laws in New York…

      http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/LAWSSEAF.cgi?QUERYTYPE=LAWS+&QUERYDATA=$$VAT388$$@TXVAT0388+&LIST=LAW+&BROWSER=BROWSER+&TOKEN=08376357+&TARGET=VIEW

      1. Every owner of a vehicle used or operated in this state shall be
      liable and responsible for death or injuries to person or property
      resulting from negligence in the use or operation of such vehicle, in
      the business of such owner or otherwise, by any person using or
      operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of such
      owner. Whenever any vehicles as hereinafter defined shall be used in
      combination with one another, by attachment or tow, the person using or
      operating any one vehicle shall, for the purposes of this section, be
      deemed to be using or operating each vehicle in the combination, and the
      owners thereof shall be jointly and severally liable hereunder.

      Here is their definition of ‘Owner’

      § 128. Owner. A person, other than a lien holder, having the property
      in or title to a vehicle or vessel. The term includes a person entitled
      to the use and possession of a vehicle or vessel subject to a security
      interest in another person and also includes any lessee or bailee of a
      motor vehicle or vessel having the exclusive use thereof, under a lease
      or otherwise, for a period greater than thirty days.

      So unless they can pull some law out which states city vehicles are above this law, I’d say their lawyer department is going to have to tell the Mayor his budget just took a hit.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      http://blog.timesunion.com/advocate/law-protects-town-from-liability/2099/

      This article is kind of interesting though. It is about a similar situation and the owner had to foot the bill. I’d say the damage on that SUV is several thousand dollars based on the number of body panels which were crushed and the likeliness that the frame got tweaked in the process. I’d love to see what happens…

  15. TechProcurement says:

    I would love to talk to a “lawyer department” myself! ;)

  16. jjmcubed says:

    If they would have hired Mr. Plow, none of this would have happened.

  17. backinpgh says:

    I don’t care who’s paying for it…what I want to know is are those leotarded workers going to be fired for their jackassery?

  18. dush says:

    The “lawyer department?”

  19. Clyde Barrow says:

    All I know is this; I want soooo bad to move to NYC and live there. I think it would be great. This guy in the vid? We’d be best friends. And the folks on the street? I’d fit right in. I think New Yorkers are awesome and I love the way that they do things (barring this accident). But still, that city has everything.

  20. Amy Alkon says:

    Guess what: “The city” is not independently wealthy. New York City taxpayers will be paying for it.