April 20, 2011 Press of AC
A Brigantine business owner has filed a complaint in state Superior Court alleging that the city was largely responsible for his auto repair shop going out of business.
Fred Ray, the owner of Fred’s Brigantine Gulf, claims in the complaint that former police Chief Jim Frugoli personally prevented his business from being placed on the city’s towing list for years, refused to allow him to tow cars to his own lot once he was on the list, and that he is still owed three-and-a-half years of towing fees by the city.
“The City of Brigantine favored other auto repair/towing companies,” the complaint states, adding that “cars were abandoned as a result of the city’s interference.”
Ray and his son, Michael, filed the complaint on March 31, listing the city of Brigantine, city Manager Jim Barber and Frugoli as defendants, as well as rival auto shops Guenther & Sons of Pleasantville and Brigantine Auto Body of Brigantine.
In the complaint, Fred Ray claims that after he started his business, Fred’s Brigantine Gulf, in 2002, he applied to Barber and Frugoli to be placed on the towing list but was not allowed to do so for three years.
The complaint claims that Frugoli personally “prevented Plaintiff Fred’s Brigantine Gulf, Inc., from getting on the towing list on ‘his island’ from 2002 to 2005.”
“My clients contend that the (former) chief of police had indicated to my clients and to other people that this was ‘his island’ and that was his position,” said the Rays’ attorney, Paul Melletz of Cherry Hill, Camden County, of Frugoli, who retired last year.
The complaint claims that after Fred’s Brigantine Gulf was placed on the towing list in 2005, the business was ordered by Frugoli “to (tow) all accident vehicles to Brigantine Auto Body, rather than the plaintiff’s facility.”
The complaint continues in claiming that Fred’s Brigantine Gulf “was never paid for the last six months of 2006, all of 2007, 2008 and 2009 for fees for towing red tag cars and is owned that money by the City of Brigantine,” adding that its mercantile license was not renewed and that “for the last two years, it has not been allowed to operate its towing company.”
The Rays are seeking approximately $500,000 in damages, which they claim is the equivalent of seven years in lost revenue.
Barber said he had no comment on the complaint.
Brigantine Solicitor Tim Maguire and Brigantine Auto Body owner Wayne McLean could not be reached for comment. The owners of Guenther & Sons did not return a call seeking comment.