A new class action lawsuit will seek to force Chicago City Hall to cough up the money it collected from people the lawsuit claims wrongly paid parking tickets issued an ordinance placing restrictions on parking inside the city’s Central Business District, when their cars weren’t parked in the CBD.
On Oct. 24, lawyers with the Zimmerman Law Offices filed the complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against the city of Chicago. The lawsuit was brought by named plaintiff Alec Pinkston, a Chicago man who said the city wrongly issued him a CBD parking ticket when his car was parked south of the CBD’s southern limit.
The lawsuit would seek to include a class of additional plaintiffs, which could number in the tens of thousands, as the plaintiffs assert the city may have issued as many as 6,000 bogus CBD tickets each year from 2013-2018. The tickets required those receiving them to pay at least $65 for each violation, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit centers on a news report published by CBS Chicago in May 2019. The report asserted an analysis completed by “self-described data geek” Matt Chapman of a dataset published by ProPublica revealed that “from 2013 to 2018 the city issued 30,001 [Central Business District Tickets] outside the Central Business District.”
The special CBD tickets were issued under a city ordinance which enhances the fine for violating the city’s metered parking restrictions in the CBD, such as parking without paying the meter or remaining parked after the meter expires.
The Pinkston complaint noted ProPublica’s dataset included “information on when, where, and by whom tickets were issued; de-identified license plates; vehicle make; registration zip code (sic); the violation for which the vehicle was cited; the payment status” and “block-level address information to the location where a ticket was issued.”
The complaint said the analysis indicated “the City has a routine practice of issuing Central Business District Tickets to vehicles parked outside of the City’s Central Business District.”
“…As a result, Plaintiff (Pinkston) and members of the class were (and are) subject to fines in connection with violations … which they did not commit,” the complaint said.
The CBD roughly includes the Loop and much of River North, bordered by Halsted Street on the west, Division Street on the north, Roosevelt Road on the south and Lake Michigan on the east.
In the complaint, Pinkston said he received a CBD ticket in May 2019, when his vehicle was parked in the 1200 block of South Wabash Avenue, south of Roosevelt Road, which serves as the southern boundary for the CBD.
In addition to the $65 per ticket fine, the complaint said many of those who received the tickets also were “subjected to late payment fees, interest, the immobilization of their vehicles, the suspension of their drivers licenses, liens imposed on their personal property, and other costs associated with the City’s debt collection attempts,” including attorney fees and court costs.
The complaint asserts the city is continuing to issue the invalid tickets.
The lawsuit asks the court to order the city to stop writing up the CBD tickets outside the CBD, and to refund all of the fines paid by those who received CBD tickets outside the CBD. The complaint does not estimate the sum of those alleged invalid fines and fees.
The complaint asks to include anyone who was “issued a Central Business District Ticket when their vehicles were parked outside of the City’s Central Business District,” with the addition of a special subclass for those who also “paid a fine, penalty, and/or interest” on those CBD tickets.