A Los Angeles Superior Court judge tentatively ruled that the city of Los Angeles improperly relied on a subcontractor to handle disputes over parking citations, an attorney said today.
City personnel write and issue the parking citations, but hand off the processing of the tickets to Xerox, including the task of reviewing challenges to tickets, according to Caleb Marker, attorney for Cody Weiss, who sued the city in January after his initial request for a review of his parking ticket was denied.
Weiss contended the ticket, which he received for parking longer than the posted time limit, was wrongfully issued because he had moved his car in time. The ticket also failed to include his VIN number and accused him of driving away, even though the citation officer was able to affix the ticket to his car.
In a tentative ruling issued Tuesday, Judge James Chalfant did not address the validity of Weiss' citation challenge, but took issue with the fact that the initial review was handled by a company called PRWT, a subcontractor for Xerox.
Chalfant wrote that only the city "as issuing agency" can conduct initial reviews, "and it may not delegate that task to its processing agency, Xerox." Chalfant cited a 1995 change in state law that said only the agency that issues a citation can conduct reviews.
Marker said he and his client are "very pleased" by the ruling.
"The judge correctly applied the law," he said. "The city and Xerox have been in violation of the law since 1995, when the law changed."
Rob Wilcox of the City Attorney's Office said the city had only just received the ruling, and attorneys are "reviewing it." Representatives of the city Transportation Department and Xerox had no immediate response to the ruling.
Marker said PRWT "is not accountable to the city, and its employees are required to adhere to an hourly quota that includes initial reviews. Thus, an employee must review the motorist's challenge, any evidence, the city's rules and render a decision in approximately three minutes or less."
Marker said with about 90 percent of challenges denied under the system, many people give up and end up paying the city.
The city takes in $158 million a year in revenue from issuing about 2.5 million parking tickets, according to Marker.
--City News Service