Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Parking Wars Goes to Chicago

I thought I had problems a few months ago when I got a parking ticket in Washington, D.C. My car (nor I) was nowhere near the vicinity of the expired parking meter on Capitol Hill where some careless or ruthless cop cited it as being in late July. I have been over that story, so I won't rehash it.

But my problem was nothing compared to the Chicago single-mother who finds herself facing a city trying to collect over $100,000 in unpaid fines from her. The website TheExpiredMeter.com has the full story, including documents and photos, so let me just summarize.

Four years ago the single mom's boyfriend bought a car for $600 from the woman's uncle. Unbeknownst to her, the boyfriend titled the vehicle in her name. Shortly thereafter, the couple parted ways. She kept the baby, he took the car. Only he did not take it very far or for very long. Instead, he abandoned it at O'Hare airport. There it was towed to the notorious impound lot, where it began receiving multiple tickets (768 in total) for multiple infractions.

The $105,761.80 car in the O'Hare impound lot, which is owned by the City of Chicago.
Since the woman did not know what happened to the car, nor that it was titled in her name at the time the ex took it, she saw no reason to follow up on the car. To make a long story short, she began receiving notices that she owed a beaucoup of money, but she did not take it seriously at first. Eventually she did try to take action, but like a bad dream she could not resolve the situation. An administrative law judge even advised her to transfer title to the boyfriend, which she did some time back, but in the meantime she also lost her license through suspension in the wake of the ticket writing extravaganza.

So now single-mom has a pro bono attorney helping her, and she has sued the City of Chicago to get the debt cancelled and her license returned. She basically is saying that the City's own protocol calls for abandoned cars to be taken care of long before they can rack up this type of penalty, and the City failed to follow its own protocol.

This is one case that I hope gets decided in the favor of the plaintiff -- especially since I lost MY parking war in September!


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