It’s a story that made national headlines a few years ago: A single mother finds out her ex-boyfriend parked her Chevy Monte Carlo in an employee parking lot at Chicago O’Hare International Airport for two and a half years. Total parking fines? $105,000, the highest in the city’s history and a potential world record. And the city says she’s supposed to pay up, starting with a $1,600 down payment.
The woman, arguing she should pay nothing, then contacts an attorney to file suit against the City of Chicago and her ex-boyfriend. Does she have a case?
That question was recently debated on “Case or No Case?,” a returning segment on Radio Law Talk, a nationally syndicated show with California Personal Injury Attorney Frederick W. Penney. So, what did Penney and his co-host Todd Kuhnen, a criminal defense attorney, think?
Penney: She Has a Case
With few details to go on, Penney pointed out many questions remain unanswered. Did the woman not realize that her car was missing? Did she know her boyfriend was using it but not that he was intentionally racking up parking fines in her name? Were they still dating at the time?
In any event, Penney concluded the courts will say she’s not liable and that she does have a case. The boyfriend may even need to spend some time in jail. “She wins,” he said.
Kuhnen: She Does Not Have a Case
Like Penney, Kuhnen also raised questions about the seemingly curious circumstances. Why didn’t the woman report the car stolen? Why did the parking authority keep issuing tickets rather than towing the vehicle? Still, he finally settled on a likely outcome: “After careful thought and consideration, I’m going with this — it’s a scenario, but not a case. Nothing was filed.”
What Really Happened?
As it turns out, the woman did have a case. ABC News reports that the city agreed to drop the $100,000 in fines, leaving her with a final bill of $4,470. According to the settlement, her ex-boyfriend then had to cover the initial down payment of $1,600 while she would pay $78 a month to clear the remaining balance.
“They had a little egg on their face with writing so many tickets on one car,” her lawyer told the media. “She’s very grateful it’s all over.”
So, what were the details of the case?
The Full Story
The story began when the woman, an unemployed single mother, says her then-boyfriend bought a used car from her uncle for $600. According to CBS Chicago, the boyfriend then proceeded to register the vehicle in her name without her knowledge.
After they broke up, the complaint says the ex-boyfriend, a United Airlines employee, used the car to go to work at O’Hare and eventually left it for good at the United lot where it started to rack up tickets and was marked as “hazardous.” The car would not be towed until two and a half years later although both airport parking regulations and the municipal code call for the removal of abandoned vehicles far quicker.
As the woman started to receive a flood of notices about the tickets, the lawsuit details how she pleaded with her ex-boyfriend to move the car on “occasions too numerous to list.”
Unable to reach the car herself in the secure lot, the 678 tickets finally tallied more than $105,000 in fines. With her driver’s license revoked and her name added to the city’s “Top 100 Scofflaw List,” the woman contacted an attorney who took her case for free. When the city maintained the woman would need to pay the six-figure fine, her attorney moved forward with the lawsuit.
Contact Penney & Associates
Do you have questions whether an incident you or a loved one have been involved in warrants a lawsuit? Penney & Associates can determine how you should proceed. As one of the leading personal injury firms in California, we have helped thousands of clients win fair restitution for their pain and suffering in and out of court. Contact us today for a free consultation.
* This blog is not meant to dispense legal advice and is not a comprehensive review of the facts, the law, this topic or cases related to the topic. For a full review of our disclaimer and policies, please click here.
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