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Towed on the South Side? This Class Action Might Be For You

By Kate Gardiner in News on Sep 28, 2009 7:40PM

The view from city lot #6.(Kate Gardiner/ Chicagoist)

Every time our car gets towed from the Chicagoist Happy Hour, we resign ourselves to our fate: a long, expensive ride down to a random city lot somewhere incredibly inconvenient. Endless lines. Administrative hurdles that make tax forms look easy. And sometimes, we're lucky enough to find someone generous enough to give us a quasi-official hearing. We always lose. And then it's ramen noodles again, for months. But at least the hearing made us feel better about the situation.

Turns out you don't even get that on the South Side. According to WBEZ's 848, there is no official hearings officer for Lot #1 - grounds, according to attorney Tom Peters, for a class action lawsuit against the city. The suit, filed on behalf of among others, a woman who's car was mistakenly towed - leaving the single mother with $2,000 in storage fees and no recourse - would involve some 15,000 people who have been towed to the South Side lot over the past five years. Peters told WBEZ:

They're not hearings. You can call up and say you have my car and you should never have taken my car and I really shouldn't have to pay you any money for my car and by the way I have 25 witnesses including my priest and my husband's rabbi, it makes no difference who the witnesses are. You always lose.

WBEZ said that they couldn't get in touch with the city's law department about the case - shocking - though they reported that the city's spokeswoman said they're looking to settle. The situation bears a strong resemblance to a certain parking meter fiasco, though the system seems to suffer more from abuse from its own employees than elected officials. So far.