Los Angeles

Man Sues LA Over Car Towed While He Was Recovering from Cancer Surgery

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Lawyers for a man suing the city of Los Angeles because his car was allegedly wrongfully seized and sold as he was recouping from cancer surgery filed papers Thursday agreeing that the city can have until June 5 to respond.

The case was filed April 10 in both U.S. District Court and Los Angeles Superior Court by Joseph Morrissey, who alleges that the city violated his constitutional rights against unreasonable seizure and due process, as well as federal and state laws that prohibit disability discrimination.

A stipulated agreement for a time extension was filed only in Los Angeles federal court, not in state court.

Morrissey, a longtime Los Angeles resident, alleges he is one of the many harmed by what he says is the city's practice of citing and towing cars that have not been moved within a 72-hour period.

Morrissey regularly parked in front of his home in his residential northeast area neighborhood for more than six years, and left his car parked on the street while he was undergoing cancer surgery, according to his lawsuits.

After spending more than a week in the hospital because of complications from the surgery, he returned home to recover, where he was bedridden and medically unable to drive, his court papers say.

Days after his release from the hospital, he says he found out he was cited for failing to move his car within 72 hours. Before he could arrange for assistance to move the car, he woke up the next morning to find that his car was towed, according to the suits.


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"The city's practice of towing cars simply because they have been parked in one place for 72 hours discriminates against people like Mr. Morrissey, whose medical conditions restrict their ability to move a car, said plaintiff's attorney Nisha Kashyap.

Morrissey contested the ticket and tow, paid the $68 fine and presented evidence of his hospitalization and medical condition, the suit states. The city acknowledged receipt of his submissions and accepted his payment, but then denied Morrissey his legal right to challenge the ticket, towing and impound fees, according to the suit.

Instead, the city sold his car at a lien sale, the suits state.

"I've never been involved in anything like this," Morrissey said. "I couldn't afford the towing and storage fees, so I tried to do everything they asked of me while I contested the ticket and tow. They took my money and still sold my car."

A trial date has not been set.

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