Parking Ticket System Rigged: Lawsuit

It was August, 2011 when Jeff Galfer received a ticket.

He was parked at a meter on street sweeping day. He plugged the meter. He still got a ticket. Galfer says he never saw the street sweeping sign. He claims it was a block away. Immediately, he appealed the ticket. A letter arrived from the city telling him that it was under review.

Months later, in December, Galfer discovered he had several fines and his DMV registration was on hold. The city’s initial review found his ticket valid. Galfer says he was never notified that a review had been done. By then, too much time passed for him to appeal.

“It is almost universally understood that this is a mess and nothing is being done” Galfer says. He claims that he discovered no one was really looking at evidence from motorists during the initial review process.

"It’s something that really affects the quality of life in LA," says attorney Damion Robinson.

He filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of seven frustrated motorists against the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Xerox State and Local Solutions, and three LA Department of Transportation Executives.

The suit alleges mishandling of the city’s parking ticket citation, review, and collection process. The LA Department of Transportation currently pays a division of Xerox to manage most aspects of the process, which is why they are named as defendants.

The lawsuit asserts that initial reviews and administrative hearings are mishandled. It further accuses Xerox’s subsidiary of using intimidation and coercion to deprive motorists.

Robinson says that the parking system, which collects more than $150 million in fines and late fees, is "essentially a tax on people, and is unfair."

It's like "getting a collection agency to decide whether you owe the money," he says.

Jonathan Hui, a spokesman for the city's transportation department, wouldn't comment, citing a policy against talking about pending litigation.'

We asked, Robert Andalon, LADOT executive officer who oversees the processing, payment, and handling of tickets if he understands why people feel that the system is rigged against them.

He replied, "No, not really."

Galfer says that his fight is really only about one thing.

"Government officials have to care more about the people than about the money coming in."

A judge should decide whether the case can move forward within the next 30 days.

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