An Ohio-based trucking company says black ice caused one of its drivers to stab himself in a ditch on Interstate 80 near Cheyenne, Wyoming on March 5, but the real shock was a towing bill of $46,800.
Odil Shanazarov, director of operations for SUS Transport in Mason, Ohio, said his company was initially charged an “excessive amount” for towing his tractor-trailer less than 10 miles. This included the 2 miles his driver drove the semi to the nearest exit after Cozad Towing of Cheyenne straightened the rig, before finding a safe place for the towing company to drive him. hook it up and tow it to the nearby business yard.
Shanazarov said bobtail insurance provider SUS Transport paid half the claim and was able to negotiate a lower amount. He and others at the company decided to use cash to reduce the carrier’s insurance premium while the company was transporting a UPS shipment.
“We called the towing company and told them we wanted to pay out of pocket for the trailer insurance because we didn’t want our premiums to go up for this little incident, but Cozad said it was a lot of trouble. money and we might not be able to pay cash or write a check for the amount,” Shanazarov told FreightWaves. “Then he sent us a picture of the invoice for the amount.
The invoice, reviewed by FreightWaves, appears to show the 10-mile tow cost $34,800, plus a second “weather tow” of $12,000.
Robin Cozad, owner of Cozad Towingclaims that the owner and executives of SUS Transport manipulated the photo of the invoice – which he sent to the trucking company and Progressive Insurance and which was posted on social media – and inflated the price of towing for give a bad image of his company.
“They just made a bunch of complaints and false charges because they didn’t like the little tow bill it was,” Cozad told FreightWaves. “It was like $6,000 and they put a number 4 in front to make it $46,000 or something.”
He said SUS Transport wrote the amount on it and “tried to get us in trouble,” but Cozad refused to provide FreightWaves with its original copy of the invoice to dispute SUS Transport’s claims.
“I don’t know what they did wrong, but I don’t want anything to do with these people,” Cozad said as he hung up the phone.
Nodir Nasirov, security manager for SUS Transport, said Progressive Insurance was able to negotiate its share up to $18,000, but Robin Cozad insisted the trucking company pay its share of $17,400 in cash or using Zelle, a mobile payment method, instead of an EFS check. as suggested by the trucking company. However, he said Cozad refused to provide the trucking company with the towing company’s bank account information.
Instead, the owner of SUS Transport and others within the company sent transfers from Zelle, which FreightWaves reviewed, to Robin Cozad’s personal account.
After the transfers were completed, Nasirov said he requested a receipt from Cozad Towing confirming the payments to submit to the trucking company’s insurance because it was more than the company expected to pay.
As of press time Thursday, Nasirov said Cozad refused to provide SUS Transport with a copy of the receipt he was required to give to his insurer.
“[Robin] Cozad said he doesn’t provide receipts, but our insurance company wouldn’t reimburse us without it,” Nasirov said.
Cozad denies this allegation, but refused to provide FreightWaves with his company’s invoice.
Of the 14 towing companies that operate along this segment of I-80, Robin Cozad is affiliated with at least three. In 2022, Rodney Miears, tow and recovery program coordinator for the Wyoming State Policeindicates that four complaints have been filed against Cozad, O’Hearn Towing and American Eagle Towing – all of which are located within a mile of each other along South Greeley Highway in Cheyenne – of Cozad.
Cozad Towing and some of its affiliates have been suspended from the Wyoming State Police rotation list “multiple times” for various violations since 2015, Miears said.
Since 2021, Miears told FreightWaves that Cozad Towing and its affiliates have received seven complaints from six trucking companies and one RV owner.
“He was suspended or kicked off the Wyoming Highway Patrol rotation roster for insurance lapse and the other for misusing dealer plates, even though it wasn’t on a tow truck, but on a piece of equipment that [Robin] Cozad took the stage,” Miears said.
Take (the) advantage?
Shanazarov, one of SUS Transport’s executives, said after his company complained about the excessive towing bill on social media, another $12,000 was added as a “weather charge”, although suspects his business has been unfairly targeted because of his Uzbek heritage.
“The police came and asked our driver, who doesn’t speak English very well, if he wanted them to call a towing company,” Shanazarov told FreightWaves. “We thought if the fuel tank is leaking and it’s damaged, it’s not viable, so we have no choice. We later found out there was no fuel leak or damage.
The towing industry in Wyoming is largely unregulated, and excessive towing bills to move damaged commercial vehicles a few miles off state roads are not uncommon.
Three days after a bill was introduced to settle pricing disputes and other issues in the state’s towing rotation list, it failed on February 18. The law project, HR119presented by Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, allegedly demanded that the Wyoming Department of Transportation create a price schedule for towing companies.
Miears said several lawmakers over the years have tried to regulate towing prices, but their efforts have all failed.
“Maybe the bills weren’t necessarily written the way other lawmakers wanted them to be or they weren’t written or put together in a way that everyone would find meaning in them, but I don’t know. not why these tow bills fail.”
In December, a Canadian trucking company called Blue Line Distribution was billed $70,000, but negotiated the bill to $50,000, after one of its tractor-trailers slipped off the highway due to black ice and high winds in Wyoming. Miears said Maps Towing and Diesel Repair of Rawlings, Wyoming, was called to the scene because it was on the state’s rotation list. After Miears’ investigation, the towing company was removed from the Wyoming Highway Patrol’s rotation list.
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