Doug's Towing sues city of Westover for civil assault

MORGANTOWN -- A towing company is suing the city of Westover after it claims it's been harassed and assaulted by the mayor.

Cranston David Johnson, the mayor of Westover, was also named as a defendant in the suit. Johnson is a former professional boxer, according to media reports.

Doug's Towing, LLC has been located and conducting business in the city of Westover for more than 10 years, according to a complaint filed Aug. 8 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Doug's Towing claims the city of Westover and Johnson have passed three city ordinances it feels are directed to harass the towing company.

It is believed that a competitor of Doug's Towing known as Ervin's Towing, is currently operating out of an auto body shop with no signage and no fencing, which is required by the new ordinances, according to the suit.

Doug's Towing claims the Monongalia County Commission has established a towing rotation list pursuant to West Virginia code, but the city of Westover has maliciously and/or negligently failed or refused to use the county's towing rotation list in that Johnson directed the Chief of Police no to use Doug's Towing even if it is the next towing company on the list.

Skipping over Doug's Towing on the rotation list is a violation of West Virginia code, according to the suit.

Doug's Towing claims it had previously been permitted to perform mechanical service work on the city's police cars, but since Johnson took office, he had refused Doug's Towing to perform mechanical service work and instead, has delegated the work to another vendor for purposes of his own.

On June 29, Doug's Towing met with Johnson and a compromise was met regarding the enforcement of the ordinances, but shortly after the compromise was reached, Johnson backtracked on the compromise and continued with the harassment of Doug's Towing, according to the suit.

On Aug. 7, Doug's Towing's owner claims he noticed Johnson, the city's police chief and a City Code Enforcement Officer at a work site along the road, and he approached Johnson to question why he had not followed through with the agreed upon compromise.

When Johnson stated that the compromise was null and void, Doug's Towing's owner stated that he was left with no choice by to file a complaint with the court, according to the suit.

As the owner was leaving, Johnson muttered something inaudible, to which the plaintiff turned back around and inquired as to what Johnson had said, however, upon turning around, the plaintiff was faced with Johnson lunging toward him, fists balled, threatening to cause him bodily harm, according to the suit.

Doug's Towing claims the police chief was forced to step between them to prevent Johnson from causing the owner bodily harm.

Doug's Towing is seeking a restraining order from the defendants; declaratory relief invalidating the ordinances or exempting Doug's Towing from the ordinances; an injunction restraining the city from taking any enforcement action against Doug's Towing pending the court's review of the legality of the ordinances; and damages and all other relief the court deems just. It is being represented by Edward R. Kohour.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 12-C-527

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