Snow job pt. 2: City won’t pay after plowing woman’s car

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 17, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-17 21:47:25-04

NEW YORK (PIX11) – Janelle Howard can’t catch a break.

Last month we told you her plight.  She was driving home in Suffolk County during the big blizzard on February 8th.  She pulled over on the LIE to clean her windshield. But the wind slammed her door shut with the keys in the ignition and the motor running.  She had to abandon the car.

When she called highway patrol to find out what happened, she was told it was hit by a New York State DOT plow.  The car was towed to Beaver’s Towing, a total loss.

Her 1995 Infinite J-30 might have been worth somewhere around $2,000.  When she called the DOT to find out what happened, she says the agency told her, “They could neither confirm nor deny it was one of their vehicles.”

Well, that’s some answer.

But Janelle had a police report. An officer saw the plow hit her car.  Unfortunately, in the chaos of the blizzard he did not note the license number for the vehicle.

When we called the DOT, the department stopped dodging, at least it stopped dodging the fact its plow destroyed her car.  We asked if Janelle could be compensated. It took 26 days – 26 days!!!! – For the DOT to get back to us and deny compensation.  The agency dodged again, this time ducking behind a New York State law requiring a showing or recklessness before it can be held liable for such things.

Great.  A department with a one-billion dollar budget can’t find a couple of grand in a contingency fund to take care of a situation like this.

Janelle had a few personal items in her car. So I went to the tow yard with her to try to retrieve them.

The owner wasn’t there.  But when I reached him by phone he said her car had been junked.  He claimed she told him to do it.  Janelle denies that.  And he refused to turn over her items unless she provided him with the car’s title.  Janelle refused.

So, she’s out a car and a few items.  The towing operator never got paid.  Everyone loses except the New York State DOT, the agency that caused this problem in the first place.

That’s your New York State government.