Abandoned car at Chicago airport a headache
A Chicago woman is suing her ex-boyfriend, United Airlines, and her city over the flurry of parking tickets she's been handed over an abandoned car registered in her name.
The $600 1999 Chevrolet Impala that Jennifer Fitzgerald says her boyfriend abandoned at Chicago's O'Hare airport has racked up some 678 tickets totalling $105,761.80 in fines over the last three years.
But Fitzgerald, 31, isn't about to pay them off. Though former boyfriend Brandon Preveau registered the vehicle in her name, she says she's never really owned it or driven it, and definitely didn't park it at O'Hare's Parking Lot E, where it's sat since November 17, 2009.
Jalopnik reports that according to Fitzgerald's complaint, Preveau took the car when he broke up with her in early 2009 and used it to get to his job at O'Hare, where he worked for United Airlines.
It was Preveau who inexplicably abandoned the car that November, when the tickets started piling up, she alleges.
Department of Aviation spokesperson Karen Pride says the parking policy at O'Hare would typically see a car abandoned for more than 30 days without notice towed to a storage lot while the operator, Standard Parking, tried to track down the owner. After that, it's supposed to go to the city impound as an abandoned vehicle.
For some reason, that didn't happen, and parking officers instead kept ticketing the car through to April 30th, 2012.
Attempts to get Preveau to move the car or give her the keys failed early on, she said, and police couldn't help her gain access to the secure lot either, apparently. At her request, the Illinois Secretary of State revoked the car's plate in September 2010, but that didn't stop the tickets from coming in.
When thrust before an administrative law judge in late 2011, she was advised to sign the title over to Preveau so he would be stuck with the liability. She did, but was later told this was still insufficient.
When the city decided it wouldn't let up, Fitzgerald enlisted the help of a pro bono lawyer, who decided to file a lawsuit against the relevant parties November 2, 2012. Fitzgerald is hoping to be declared no longer the owner of the vehicle, and not responsible for the tickets, since United Airlines should've towed it long ago.
A City of Chicago website explains when a vehicle has been booted or the owner's licence suspended – both apply to the unemployed Fitzgerald – a 50 percent down payment on fines owing is typically due to the Department of Finance immediately, with the rest to be paid off in a year.
The car was finally moved to a city impound lot this past October. Fitzgerald's case will go to court next May.