Judge pulls to the curb class action vs city, ParkChicago vendors over app users' parking tickets

By Jonathan Bilyk | May 21, 2018

A class action lawsuit accusing the city of Chicago and its curbside parking meters vendors of wrongly issuing parking tickets to motorists who actually had fed the meters using the ParkChicago smartphone app, has been dismissed.

On May 16, Cook County Judge Sanjay Tailor granted the request of the plaintiffs to voluntarily withdraw their lawsuit. The judge dismissed the action without prejudice, shooting down a request from the defendants to toss the suit with prejudice, which would have meant the plaintiffs wouldn’t be able to reintroduce the lawsuit in the future.

The lawsuit, filed against the city and vendors Chicago Parking Meters LLC and LAZ Parking Chicago, centered on the rollout of the ParkChicago app in 2014, which was introduced by the vendors in the aftermath of the signing of CPM’s $1.2 billion, 75-year lease of the city’s 36,000 metered parking spaces.

The app was promoted as a way of helping busy commuters and others parking on Chicago city streets to quickly and easily pay for parking without having to visit the associated curbside parking payment kiosk. The city and vendors also allegedly promoted the app as a means of reducing the risk of getting parking tickets, as parking enforcement officers could simply run a car’s license plate to determine if the parking had been properly paid, rather than looking for a receipt on the dashboard.

The lawsuit, however, asserted flaws in the system have instead led to app users receiving tickets, particularly if a parking enforcement officer would arrive within 15 minutes of the user submitting payment, of if the officer did not run users’ license plates to determine if they had paid.

Plaintiffs Edward Sanchez, who initially filed the lawsuit, and Jennifer Chui both alleged they had improperly received parking tickets, despite using the app.

However, the city and vendors had argued neither plaintiff could bring the lawsuit, because neither of them had ever actually paid a fine, after the city’s administrative review process resulted in their tickets being dismissed.

While recognizing receiving such tickets would be troublesome, the defendants asked the court to find legal precedent holds people wrongly receiving parking tickets have no “freedom from administrative inconvenience.”

The judge had responded on April 4 by dismissing the case without prejudice. However, the defendants followed with a motion, asking the judge to bar the plaintiffs from again refiling their complaint.

In a handwritten order, however, Judge Tailor rejected that motion, without explanation.

The plaintiffs are represented in the action by attorneys Philip A. Bock and Jonathan B. Piper, of the firm of Bock Hatch Lewis & Oppenheim LLC, of Chicago.

The ParkChicago vendors are represented by attorneys with the firms of Winston & Strawn LLP and Ulmer & Berne LLP, both of Chicago.

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Organizations in this Story

Bock, Hatch, Lewis & Oppenheim LLC City of Chicago Laz Parking Chicago LLC Ulmer & Berne LLC Winston and Strawn LLP

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