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Man Sues Los Angeles over Excessive Parking Meter Fines

When a fine for an expired meter grew to $175, one man decided he was mad as heck and wasn't going to take it anymore.

A Los Angeles man is suing the city for what he claims are unconstitutional excessive fines imposed for expired parking meters. Patch file photo.
A Los Angeles man is suing the city for what he claims are unconstitutional excessive fines imposed for expired parking meters. Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 5:25 p.m. Feb. 27, 2014. Edited to fix an error.

A Los Angeles man is suing the city for what he claims are unconstitutional excessive fines imposed for expired parking meters, according to court papers obtained today.

Jesus Pimentel, lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action suit, contends that his $175 parking fine was unfair and potential further penalties deprive residents of their right to due process.

A call to the City Attorney's Office after regular business hours was not immediately returned.

According to the complaint, filed in Los Angeles federal court this week, Pimental received the ticket on Eighth Street downtown at 3:10 p.m. last May 29.

He paid the fine in order to register his vehicle at the DMV, the lawsuit says.

The ticket started out at $63 for an expired meter, but doubled because it wasn't paid within two weeks, the complaint states. Pimentel also had to pay a $28 delinquent fee and $21 for collection, he said.

The lawsuit alleges that the DMV's threat to withhold registration of his car and/or boot or seize the vehicle if he didn't pay the $175 -- along with the threat of civil litigation, reporting him to a credit bureau and garnishing of his state tax refund -- violated his constitutional right to face his accusers in court.

"The parking meter expiration penalties are unreasonable and oppressive, and grossly disproportionate to the seriousness of the violation," the suit claims.

The lawsuit seeks class certification, declaratory relief, an injunction, and damages.

--City News Service

Richard Epcar February 27, 2014 at 10:53 PM
I hope he wins. These fines are ridiculous. I just payed $400 when my car was towed from a parking space. These guys are a bunch of crooks-they're worse than the Mafia. And there's no one here to actually talk to about it. All the fine collections are outsourced to other states.
StirCrazy February 28, 2014 at 02:06 AM
Awesome!
Gregory Urbach February 28, 2014 at 02:13 AM
This is just the tip of the ice berg. The parking and traffic fines in L.A. are outrageous. More often than not, the traffic cops are just crooks with badges, abusing their authority to raise money for the politicians, aided and abetted by the DMV and the courts. If the LAPD wants to know why they have so little community support (and in L.A., their support is minimal), this is a good place to start finding the answers.
Henderson Cooper February 28, 2014 at 09:15 AM
I agree with the overal content of this law suit. The function of Parking Ticket enforcement departed from the idea of making the availability of drivers to access convenient parking for business or commerce has been turned into a revenue source for the city. Rather than having those officers helping to support the clear flow of traffic through our over crowded streets and intersections, they have become profit and punishment tools for the cities mismanaged economy. Those who blame LAPD however are misinformed by bias or ignorance. Parking enforcement is a function of the Department of Transportation not LAPD. Rarely do you find LAPD officer writing parking tickets. Fact check things to make your points validity and avoid exposing prejudices or bias. There is a valid issue here that is misdirected by not understanding by choice or ignorance.
Ron O February 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM
Just another reason people are leaving Los Angeles for good. Why does this city insist on punishing people just trying to make a living and get through life? Unreasonable bureaucrats at city hall could care less about the citizens of this city. Frankly, this is a shakedown that Don Corleone and the rest of the mob would love. Shame on LA.
kevin.day February 28, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Please give us more info! Would like to join suit...
barbross February 28, 2014 at 11:23 AM
I agree with this person. This is ridiculous and excessive. This system also prohibits shoppers from being able to spend time at local shops and vendors. It's a total lose/lose situation. A full day meter option should be available.
William Robert Carey February 28, 2014 at 11:29 AM
Besides the lack of due process, it sounds like extortion to me. Kind of like the legal graft (campaign finance contributions) compromising our political system.
Mary-Ann Neri February 28, 2014 at 11:30 AM
Another way the city raises money is fineing for "red zones" that may have been red once, or are hidden by City vehicles that park there with no problem. You can't park a car without the threat of a major fine. I hope the media stays on top of this story. Good luck to the guy who filed suit.
Jeff February 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM
I had a similar experience about a year and a half ago in Brentwood, Ca. It was a Sunday, I had to meet a business associate and the valet parking was backed up. I parked at an hour meter, filled it, set my iPhone to tell me when I had ten minutes left. I went out with 2 minutes remaining on the meter and TWO tickets were on my windshield. One for an expired meter and another for parking over an hour. I saw the officer writing up just about every car in that stretch, so I asked him to look at the meter. He waited about five minutes -- intentionally -- seeing that I had caught him with time still in my meter. He said I could fight it, but "good luck." He was right. I immediately contested it online and, a couple of weeks later, got a computer generated letter that "after review" my request was declined. I went to the office in Van Nuys to contest it again, to try to get before a judge. I waited there ninety minutes, only to be rudely told at the counter that, not only was i not going to get my day in court, now the two tickets were in penalty (because I was waiting on that first letter). I asked what my recourse was an she said "Pay it!" She rudely shooed me away, after all that, and said "Next!" I wrote a note to the city's rep and got no reply. I ended up not wanting to waste any more time nor rack up any more fines by trying to get justice, so I did exactly what these city scammers wanted -- I paid over $200 (don't recall the exact amount) -- to grab a quick coffee on a Sunday with a business associate. I hope this fellow wins and helps end this robbery and corruption.
mjhanderson99 February 28, 2014 at 01:34 PM
Please post info on where to join the class action! I was harassed by LA City hired collection agency and my credit dinged for a parking ticket that was paid but never recorded as paid!
Sherry Barnett February 28, 2014 at 02:05 PM
I would gladly join a class action suit as well.
bbohlcke February 28, 2014 at 04:37 PM
Suing, I hadn't thought of that. I think that the parking fines are outrageous as well. We have permit parking in my neighborhood. This means that there are at least 2 cars patrolling our neighborhood from 8 to 5. I think a car comes by 8x an hour if not more. over half the time when I walk outside I can spot a parking enforcement car. I am in the middle of the figure eight they make in my neighborhood. Now, making sure that people don't park in front of my house all the time is great, but if I for one second forget what day it is and park in front of my house on street cleaning day, I am done for. I have parked there for less than 2 minutes with the front door open at 5 to noon and gotten a ticket. They now are over $70 a ticket. I contested for harrassment and they said they sent me an immediate denial. I didn't receive it and they said I had to PROVE I didn't receive it. How am I supposed to do that? In the meantime because it had passed the due date, the fees astronomically rose and I ended up paying over $300. These fees just aren't reasonable and they don't take any consideration of who they are affecting. If you are out an about in Van Nuys on a week day you aren't rich and famous. You are making it perhaps, a stay at home mom, self-employed. $70 is a big chunk out of the monthly budget. If you had any entertainment part of the budget it is gone, if there was any extracurricular activities for the kids like ballet at the rec center, it is gone. The DOT needs to go back and take a look at their real job, and compare what they are supposed to do with the use of their time, the number of officers, the types of tickets and the amounts of the fines. Currently these do not make sense.
Rachel Saldana February 28, 2014 at 07:11 PM
I totally agree all of the above!!!
gene smith February 28, 2014 at 09:32 PM
BRAVO Jesua.......finally someone with enough guts to face down the oppresors. The "Income producing" aspect of many of the fees and fines being imposed on citizens is just ridiculous and overdue to be addressed and substantially reduced to more reasonable amounts.
William Brady March 01, 2014 at 09:05 AM
Thank You Jesus; At last we have an issue that has effected almost everyone in the City. As described, the system is worthless and only providing jobs for the DOT. I gave up on trying to get reimbursement after spending hours at the Van nuys office. I contacted the Councilman for my district and did not even get a response to my letter. I would love to be part of this action. My biggest complaint is how the DOT could change the parking hours by two hours throughout the city from 6PM to 8pm without any notice. Furthermore, they replaced thousands of street signs and added expensive meters into residential neighborhoods. how much are they spending and who authorises it. These actions cut across most city departments and effect all of us. I have a car repair business, the Fire department, inspected me and said as i have used oil on the premises I have to pay almost $1000 a year, this is for safely storing used oil which I also have to pay for to recycle, it is robbery and we have little say as to who makes these rules. William Brady
Scott Zwartz March 01, 2014 at 03:19 PM
The City has to gouge the regular citizens so that it can give away billions of dollars to billionaire developers. The citizens don't complain when Garcetti gives $67 Million to Korean Airlines because its new high rise will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Angelenos need to make up their minds -- do they want to continue to give billions of tax dollars to developers or do they want fewer fees and fines. You cannot have both.
Gregory Urbach March 01, 2014 at 05:05 PM
Let's not forget the public employee's unions whose underfunded pensions and bloated salaries must be paid for. The politicians fear the unions, and because taxes are already sky high, the difference is made up with fines, penalties and and other crooked schemes. The cops and building inspectors are all part of this racket, and most of them don't even live in Los Angeles.
Carl Petersen III March 01, 2014 at 05:51 PM
"The ticket started out at $63 for an expired meter, but doubled because it wasn't paid within two weeks, the complaint states. Pimentel also had to pay a $28 delinquent fee and $21 for collection, he said." This doesn't say that he contested the ticket, it says that he ignored it. Should the payment of parking tickets be voluntary?
Gregory Urbach March 01, 2014 at 06:20 PM
And why should the parking ticket have been $63 dollars? That's ridiculous. It's nothing but the government's way of abusing their authority.
John March 03, 2014 at 02:00 PM
No. It's to try and get whining over-indulged children to pay the average $1 to park their car. Or not block intersections while they ignore red lights. Or, maybe, try to get them to stop texting as they weave through traffic, and almost nail pedestrians in crosswalks. I hear flat rate parking fees fund terrorism,..discuss....
Dan March 06, 2014 at 02:19 PM
silly liberals. you voted for this.
William Brady March 06, 2014 at 03:48 PM
John, Why should we have to pay at all? I agree with you on blocking junctions, & etc, it is terrible and no police or traffic wardens ever in sight,WHY NOT.
nonoise March 08, 2014 at 11:06 AM
If the parking enforcement officer is there you can ask them to call their supervisor to come out. And, you can call the traffic division in your area for help.
nonoise March 08, 2014 at 11:08 AM
Noisemakers should also be taken to court when LAPD refuses to enforce noise laws, CA Penal Code 4 15 and LA Municipal Code Chapter 11, Article 5, Section 115. LAPD needs to be taken to court for not enforcing the law.
Mike Mueller March 12, 2014 at 10:38 AM
I received a ticket in Santa Monica while attending a business event at 9pm. The place I parked at ended parking enforcement at 8pm, I parked at 8:45pm. I came back to my car at 10:30pm and I had a ticket. The parking sign was about 5 feet from my vehicle so I took a picture of my car with the sign in the background and then I took a picture of the sign. I contested the ticket and sent the photos along with my complaint. They denied my claim saying the photos were not clear. The photos were as clear as the type you are reading right now. I had to pay the ticket to get my registration. This system is so corrupt!

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