MANHATTAN (CN) – A driver who parked too close to a fire hydrant has put his shoulder to the wheel and demands $500 million in class damages, claiming New York City adds surcharges to parking tickets, which make the amount of the fine illegal.
Bernard Weitz was cited on Oct. 3 for parking too close to a fire hydrant. He paid the $115 fine rather than contest it, according to his class action in New York County Court.
Weitz says the when he paid his fine online through the NYCSERV system, the bill included a $10 penalty, which he presumed was a late fee.
He paid the bill in full, plus a $2 credit card fee, for a total of $127, on Nov. 10.
Citing Vehicle and Traffic Law § 237(2), Weitz says that the additional fees pushed his fine over the legal limit.Vehicle and Traffic Law § 237(2) states that “(i) in a city with a population of one million or more, violations committed in spaces where stopping or standing is prohibited for which monetary penalties shall not exceed one hundred dollars and, (ii) handicapped parking violations for which monetary penalties shall not exceed one hundred fifty dollars; and (b) abandoned vehicle violations, except in a city with a population of one million or more, provided however, that monetary penalties shall not be less than two hundred fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars for each abandoned vehicle violation,” according to the complaint.
But Weitz says that for at least 6 years the city has added surcharges that make its fines illegal.
“Since on or prior to November 28, 2005, defendant has frequently, routinely and persistently imposed, demanded payment for and collected Parking Ticket fines in amounts that exceeded the lawful amounts permitted by VTL § 237(2),” according to the complaint.
The complaint begins in high dudgeon: “As is the case for the named representative plaintiff, and as is believed to be the case for all or most parking summonses that have been issued in the City of New York going back many years and which continue to be issued with no end in sight, defendant has and continues to issue hundreds of thousands if not millions of parking summonses whereby the amounts of the so-called fines – which amounts appear on the summonses and the payments of which are systematically and unrelentlessly [sic] demanded and collected by defendant under threat and power of significant penalties, late charges and interest, and the imposition of various severe punitive measures, including but not limited to seizure and confiscation, and/or the suspension or revocation of license and other privileges – exceed the lawful fine amounts that defendant can legally impose and collect under the state’s enabling statute, Vehicle and Traffic Law [VTL] §237(2), and/or includes a ‘surcharge’ that defendant cannot lawfully impose and collect for the vast majority of parking violations where the owner/operator has not contested the summons and instead paid the so-called fine without requesting and receiving any adjudication of guilt or liability,” the complaint states.
Weitz seeks class damages of $500 million for unlawful fines and surcharges, and injunctive relief.
He is represented by Sanford Young, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lawyers for New York City said that they have not yet received notice of the suit.