Motorists who get questionable parking tickets in Los Angeles and, possibly, other California cities have won a huge victory, due to a decision by the California Supreme Court.
The court issued a ruling that will force the city of Los Angeles to start handling parking ticket disputes itself, instead of subcontracting them to third-party company Xerox as it has done for years.
A 2014 NBC4 I-Team investigation found that a Xerox subcontractor automatically denied most ticket appeals, even when citizens presented strong evidence they were wrongly ticketed, forcing many motorists to pay tickets they believe were unfair.
"I felt like I was in the right and I wasn't being listened to," said Cody Weiss, who fought what he said was an unfair ticket, but lost his initial appeal.
Weiss sued the city of Los Angeles in 2014, challenging LA's practice of farming out parking ticket disputes to Xerox, a for-profit company.
"Xerox did not give the citizens a fair chance to fight parking tickets. Their motivation was to make money, they were motivated by greed," Weiss told NBC4.
Weiss' lawsuit worked its way to the California Appeals Court, which ruled in August against the city, saying state law forbids the use of a private contractor to handle citizen's ticket disputes.
City Attorney Mike Feuer petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the Appellate Court decision. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court denied the city's petition to review the case any further, meaning the lower court's decision to make LA handle the tickets themselves will stand.
The city apparently had been anticipating the Supreme Court would not rule in its favor. Los Angeles Department of Transportation Bruce Gillman told the NBC4 I-Team the city has been hiring city employees to handle citation appeals, starting within 30 days.
Plaintiff Cody Weiss hopes this means justice for motorists who fight parking tickets.
"This means everyone who fights a ticket is going to be listened to. Everyone is going to have a fair chance to defend themselves," Weiss told NBC4.
The Supreme Court's ruling could have impact far beyond Los Angeles, since other California cities use Xerox and third parties to handle ticket disputes.
"This is a statewide victory for all Californians," said attorney Caleb Marker, who handled Cody Weiss' suit all the way to the Supreme Court. "This ruling means that other cities can't rely on for-profit businesses to handle ticket disputes."