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Published: Thursday, 1/31/2013

Two Toledo police officers file lawsuit over parking tickets

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two Toledo police officers filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday claiming they and countless others have received parking tickets issued unlawfully.

Andre Cowell and Keith Zaborowski said in the complaint filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court that they received parking citations from ParkSmart employees for allegedly parking at expired meters or in “no parking” zones while working as Toledo police officers.

Both had to pay fines and court costs to remove “warrant blocks” that prohibited them from renewing their drivers’ licenses or license plates with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

The complaint, which names the downtown parking authority known as ParkSmart, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the city of Toledo, and the BMV, alleges ParkSmart employees simply could not legally issue citations, that the city unlawfully delegated law enforcement activity to ParkSmart.

“We believe essentially that there was a period of time going back to 1995 through December, 2011, where for all intents and purposes ParkSmart employees were not authorized law enforcement officers as defined by the law and as a result the employees were issuing tickets … without proper authority to do so,” said Jay Feldstein, attorney for the plaintiffs. “The city of Toledo put its imprimatur on it by authorizing ParkSmart employees to write tickets.”

Mr. Feldstein said that while numerous police officers and deputy sheriffs have been affected, the claims apply to the public at large.

“We believe a large class was impacted by this,” he said. “Now we start the lengthy process of identifying individuals who have been impacted.”

The suit asks the court to stop the defendants from issuing tickets and warrant blocks, and collecting fees and fines. It seeks an order prohibiting the city from delegating any law enforcement duties to ParkSmart employees, and asks for damages, including fees and costs paid by those affected.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority paid the city of Toledo $12.4 million to buy three municipal parking garages and take over management of curbside metered parking, a deal that took effect in January, 2012. The port authority then hired the Downtown Toledo Development Corp., run by Bill Thomas, for $60,000 a year to act as the middleman between the port and ParkSmart.

City spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei could not be reached for comment. The case is assigned to Judge Stacy Cook.



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