Us broke folk know exactly how it goes. You buy a car for less than a grand. It breaks. It’s not worth fixing. As this blogger’s mother once said, “it’s a disposable car.” Buy ‘em, drive ‘em, dump ‘em.
Except we learned the hard way that when you dump the car, it gets parking tickets. After it gets enough tickets, it gets towed. You get charged for the tickets, the tow, the impound fees, storage fees, and collection fees. Sometimes, you even get charged a fee for the damn Denver boot.
Jennifer Fitzgerald now knows this as well. To make matters worse, it wasn't exactly her car, reports The Expired Meter. Her uncle sold the car to her then-boyfriend, who registered it in her name, allegedly without her knowledge. He was the one to abandon it in an airport parking lot, where he worked.
Long story short, it sat, lonely and abandoned, and racked up tickets. On November 17, 2009, the car was cited for seven different violations, including a ticket for its dilapidated condition, one for being abandoned, and another for being parked in a city lot for more than 30 days.
According to that final law, any car parked for more than 30 days "shall be subject to an immediate tow." The parking lot's policies are the same. Yet the vehicle was not towed. It stayed parked until it had accrued a record-breaking $105,761.80 in tickets. It was finally towed a few days before the lawsuit was filed in early November of this year. The list of tickets issued stretches over thirty pages.
When it comes to the registration issue, unless she can prove that the car was registered by fraud, she's probably out of luck there. You are liable for property registered in your name, even if that property is under the control of your significant other.
However, she has a very convincing argument on the basis of the November 17, 2009 date. The statute states that a hazardous or dilapidated vehicle "shall" be towed. Not that it might be towed, could be towed, or should be towed, but that it shall.
At that point, the tickets should have stopped. The car should have been towed. And she should have been stuck with a massive bill for the prior tickets, towing, storage, impound fees, etc. That massive bill probably still sounds pretty good when staring at a different bill for $105,761.80.
And before you argue that she should've had the vehicle towed herself, well, she thought of that. The lot was a secured area at the airport. She was not allowed to access the lot to remove the vehicle. She even enlisted the help of an officer, who was also unable to access the vehicle.
- Consult a Chicago Personal Injury Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Fitzgerald v. City of Chicago, et al (Complaint)
- Woman Sues After $600 Car Gets $100K in Parking Tickets (FindLaw's Legal Grounds Blog)
- Chicago to Review Woman's $105,000 Parking Ticket Bill (ABC News)