Class action suit filed against 'booting' company

Article Courtesy of ABC CH 7 WZVN

By Andy Pierotti

Published March 24, 2010


LEE COUNTY: A Fort Myers law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit against a local security company for unfair vehicle booting practices.

Shane Tucker says he was in the wrong place at the wrong time when Whitestone Security booted his truck a few months ago while visiting a friend in a Cape Coral community.

"I thought it was a joke. I was getting ready to cut it off, because I thought it was a joke," he said.

But it wasn't a joke, and it cost him $160 to get the boot off.

Whitestone booted him for parking in the grass, against the homeowner association's rules.

Tucker is part of a class action lawsuit filed on Tuesday that claims Whitestone's booting fines are "illegal" and "nothing more than a profit enhancer."

Last year, Collier County received so many booting complaints, most of them about Whitestone; it capped booting fines to $25.

Ernest Aviles, a former Whitestone employee, claims his boss told him to then focus booting in Lee County.

"He says we're not going to be booting in Collier County anymore, because they passed a $25 fine. We can't work on that amount of money. I want to you come up here, and I want you to kill Lee County. I mean, I want you to hit them hard," said Aviles.

Whitestone denied that claim in February.

"No, that did not happen," said Brian Mayberry, with Whitestone's business development.

Joel Schrock has had a boot on his car since January, not for parking incorrectly, but for an expired tag. Schrock can afford to pay, but he won't out of principal.

"They don't have the law to do that," he said.

His community, Manor at Morton Grove, stopped using Whitestone after residents complained the company booted for things not it its homeowner's association's set of rules.

Whitestone declined to react to the lawsuit, but previously told us it only enforces rules set by homeowner's associations.

The state of Florida has an open investigation into Whitestone, after some residents claimed the company booted vehicles for having expired license plates.

Whitestone says it is not aware of any investigation.

Homeowners 'irate' over booted vehicles