A citizen was contesting the towing and storage fees he had to pay to a private pound, acting under a proxy of Ville de Montréal.

His vehicle had been seized by the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (the “SPVM”), then towed and stored, at the request of the SPVM, for the purpose of a police investigation. When the citizen was authorized to retrieve his vehicle, he had to pay $869.14. The citizen seeked reimbursement because he was not responsible for this towing nor for the long storage delays due to the police investigation.

Our investigation revealed that this vehicle had been stolen in 1999 and that its serial number had been modified. When the SPVM found it, in 2009, the plaintiff was its possessor in good faith but the insurance company who had compensated the initial owner was legally the owner.

Usually, when the SPVM keeps a stolen vehicle of which it suspects the identification numbers have been modified, the towing and storage fees incurred during the investigation are billed to the insurance company who has become the legal owner of the car.

In the present instance, however, the insurance company had transferred the ownership rights to the possessor in good faith of the vehicle (our plaintiff) which is why he was the one who claimed the vehicle and charged the towing and storage fees of $869.14.

We questioned the relevance of requesting that the possessor in good faith of a stolen vehicle pays the towing and storage fees related to a police investigation, in regards to an event he did not perpetrate. We also took into account the fact that the citizen had no control on this investigation and therefore, on the duration of this storage. Finally, we considered the fact that the citizen had retrieved his vehicle as soon as he had been allowed to do so.

Following a discussion with the Bureau des réclamations and considering the special circumstances of this file, it was agreed that this citizen should be reimbursed, which he was.

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