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Trials & Litigation

Breakup sparks legal battle over $105K in parking tickets, a record high amount in Chicago

Posted Apr 11, 2013 1:35 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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When Jennifer Fitzgerald and Brandon Preveau split up, he kept the 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo he had purchased for $600.

But the car was in her name, as were the parking tickets Preveau allegedly racked up by abandoning it for nearly three years in a United Airlines employees-only parking lot at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Fitzgerald sued Preveau and the city over the $105,000 bill that resulted—which is a record high in Chicago for a single vehicle, a city spokesman told the newspaper.

Judge Thomas Allen dismissed the Cook County case after a Wednesday hearing, finding that Fitzgerald hadn't exhausted her remedies in the city's administrative hearing process. He also urged the parties to try to settle the case before it is refiled and also wondered aloud how it was possible to physically attach all the tickets—up to four per day—to the vehicle.

While noting that Fitzgerald was trying to turn back the hands of time, having failed to keep on top of the administrative hearing process as the tickets piled up, the judge also pointed a finger at the city, the Trib recounts.

“The other thing I see in the complaint is a ridiculous, robotic march to write tickets on a $600 junk car,” he said at Wednesday's hearing.

Attorney Matt Prengaman, who represented Preveau, contended that she is trying to blame him for her own "inaction."

The city says it previously offered to settle with Fitzgerald for a mere $4,460, which includes $2,000 for parking tickets and penalties on another Fitzgerald vehicle. Effectively, that would mean she would have to pay only $2,460 for the O'Hare parking violations, the newspaper says.

But Fitzgerald rejected the offer because Preveau wasn't willing to contribute to the payment.

“I could not get into that lot to move the car," she told reporters after the hearing. "He had the car keys, he had everything.”

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