Did Detroit illegally collect millions of dollars in parking ticket fines? That’s what one federal lawsuit is alleging. Filed last week, the lawsuit is accusing the city of Detroit of illegally issuing parking ticket fines to collect millions of dollars, and has been doing so since 2014.
Did Detroit illegally collect millions of dollars in parking ticket fines? That’s what one federal lawsuit is alleging. Filed last week, the lawsuit is accusing the city of Detroit of illegally issuing parking ticket fines to collect millions of dollars, and has been doing so since 2014. So how did this happen?
Well, it’s no secret that over the last few years Detroit has been making a come back. It even “implemented a high-tech, $3.5-million meter system that accepts cash, credit cards and smartphone payments” to pay parking tickets, something the city issued a lot of over recent years. In fact, over the last three years alone, Detroit issued an estimated “300,000 parking tickets annually,” which generated $13 million in revenue in 2015 alone. However, this revenue was all made illegally, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges the city of Detroit “collected millions of dollars in unlawful and unauthorized fines over the past three and a half years, and is asking a judge to bar the city from issuing tickets with the higher fines while the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, moves forward in court.”
How were the fines illegal or unauthorized, though? It turns out, back in April 2014 the then-emergency city manager, Kevyn Orr, “issued an order raising ticket fines.” With the changes in place, the new lowest fine “was set at $45, and the city began ticketing at the higher rates in the summer of that year.” However, the lawsuit claims the new order “was never enacted or published and never became law.” In fact, the lawsuit even draws attention to the fact that “the city’s current parking ordinance still lists ticket prices at the lower rates, even after the Detroit City Council made other big changes to it in 2015.”
The lawsuit itself was filed by Shaun Godwin, an attorney representing “two plaintiffs who received Detroit parking tickets in 2016.” When commenting on the matter, Godwin said “Orr’s order proposing new rates started but didn’t finish the process of actually changing the city’s parking ordinance.” He added that “even though Orr had tremendous powers to change city policies as emergency manager during Detroit’s bankruptcy, you still have to follow the steps laid out in the charter for changing the law.”
Over time, Godwin hopes to add more plaintiffs to the lawsuit, “including people who have had cars impounded, driver’s licenses suspended, or traffic ticket debts sent to collections after the new ticket prices took effect.”
The city of Detroit isn’t the only one listed in the lawsuit as a defendant, though. It also names “Norman White, head of Detroit’s parking department, Parking Violations Bureau director James Canty, and Duncan Solutions, Inc., a private city parking contractor.”