A Chicago attorney is taking another shot at bringing a class action against a northwest suburban village over claims it includes too much personal information on the parking tickets it issues, arguing that, while federal courts rejected an earlier suit he argued over the ticket received by one particular man, the courts never formally dealt with his class allegations that the village's practices violated privacy rights of potentially thousands of others.
On Nov. 2, attorney Martin J. Murphy filed suit in federal court in Chicago against the village of Palatine, seeking class certification for an action he is bringing on behalf of a class of people who have received village parking tickets, placed on the windshields of their vehicles, and on which enforcement officers have written personal information obtained from Illinois motor vehicle records.
Murphy’s complaint alleged the inclusion of this information constituted a violation of federal privacy laws intended to strictly limit the distribution and use of personal information contained in the states’ various motor vehicle records.
According to the complaint, the class could include potentially thousands of people who have received such tickets.
The complaint comes as a “successor action” to a failed lawsuit brought in federal court in 2010 by a plaintiff identified as Jason Senne. Murphy represented Senne in that action.
Senne had similarly argued a parking ticket he received contained too much personal information, which he believed Palatine police obtained from the motor vehicle records maintained and made available to law enforcement by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.
Five years later, in April 2015, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion authored by Judge Posner, with judges Sykes and Simon concurring, upheld a lower court’s ruling, finding the village’s use of the information and inclusion of the information on its parking tickets was a legitimate use of the information to identify the person being served with notice of a violation, and so did not violate Senne’s privacy rights under the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.
“Had the Village been making the information on parking tickets publicly available over the Internet, or had it placed on the tickets highly sensitive information such as the owner’s social security number, the risk of a nontrivial invasion of personal privacy from the disclosure would be much greater and probably outweigh the benefits to law enforcement,” wrote Posner. “The Village has never done that.”
With the dismissal, the courts also dismissed the attempt by Murphy and Senne to turn the case into a class action.
However, Murphy said the class allegations have yet to have “their day in court.” So, he has asked the court to allow him to proceed with his attempt to collect $2,500 for each instance in which the village issued what he believes to have been infringing parking tickets in Palatine, as well as unspecified attorney fees. He said he “retained … an experienced litigator who is experienced with class actions.”
He also is seeking an injunction preventing the village of Palatine from continuing to include such personal information on its parking tickets, the complaint stated.