A Chicago woman has broken a city record by accruing more than $105,000 in parking tickets, issued over three years to a car that cost only $600. And now she is suing the city. But before readers get indignant, read on. It looks like she actually has a good case.
Owner of the car with all the parking tickets?
The car, a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo, was bought for $600 in 1978, and is owned by 31-year-old Jennifer Fitzgerald, an unemployed single mother from Chicago. Or is it? Even the ownership of the vehicle is fuzzy in this convoluted sequence of events.
Fitzgerald’s ex-boyfriend Brandon Preveau bought the car from his uncle, but for whatever reason, registered it in Fitzgerald’s name. Preveau used the car to get to and from his job for United Airlines at O’Hare Airport. However, according to Fitzgerald’s legal complaint, “On or before November 17, 2009, Brandon drove the Automobile into the Parking Lot and never drove it out again.” Fitzgerald said she did not know Preveau’s reason for abandoning the vehicle.
The car was issued its first ticket on May 23, 2009. But on November 17, it was cited for being in a dilapidated condition, not having a city sticker, broken headlights, broken windows, expired plates, being abandoned and for being left more than 30 days in a lot owned by the city. At that point, according to city regulations, it should have been towed to impound. But again, for whatever reason, it was not.
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For the next three years the vehicle continued to collect 678 citations, culminating in the staggering bill that exceeds the next largest Chicago parking violator by $65,000.
Fitzgerald strikes back
But Fitzgerald said she had no idea that Preveau had registered the car in her name, and so the bill is rightfully his. The city is taking a hard line on the matter, however, insisting she pay the complete bill. However, the unemployed Fitzgerald is not able to get a loan for a car, much less pay more than $100,000 in citations.
Therefore, she has filed her complaint against Preveau, the City of Chicago and United Airlines, because it leased the parking lot from the city for employee parking. Fitzgerald contends that if the city had towed the car after 30 days as it should have, the citations would not have accrued.
Sounds like she has a case to us. It will go before a judge in early May, 2013.