New York town’s towing law preempted

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The State of New York could delegate to towns its safety regulatory authority over local tow-truck operations, but the Town of Woodbury’s requirement that all licensed tow companies maintain a tow yard within one mile of the police department is preempted because it is “not genuinely responsive to safety concerns,” according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The ruling is a mixed bag for Loyal Tire & Auto Center, which had challenged the town’s regulation. The district court had granted Loyal Tire summary judgment on the grounds not only that the rule was not related to safety but also that the state had not delegated its safety regulatory authority over intrastate carriers.

The federal appeals court reversed the latter ruling as well as the award of attorney’s fees. (Loyal Tire & Auto Center vs. Town of Woodbury; Case 05-1295-CV)