Woman settles with Chicago over $100,000 parking fine

Woman settles with Chicago over $100,000 parking fine

The car was left abandoned at an airport parking lot for nearly three years. (Fox 32 / ABC News)

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by ABC News

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 24, 2013 at 8:55 PM

(ABC News) -- A Chicago woman has settled with the city of Chicago after she was left with more than $100,000 in parking fines when her ex-boyfriend abandoned her car in an inaccessible airport parking lot for nearly three years.

Jennifer Fitzgerald initially owed the city of Chicago a whopping $105,000 after a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo – a used car that was bought for $600 and registered in her name – was parked at O’Hare Airport for three years starting in November 2009. It was parked there by Fitzgerald’s ex, Brandon Preveau, according to a civil suit Fitzgerald filed.

According to DNA Info Chicago the city agreed to drop $100,000 in ticket fines against Fitzgerald leaving her with a final bill of $4,470.

Preveau has to pay the initial down payment of $1,600 and Fitzgerald will pay an additional $78 per month until the fine is paid off.

The settlement brings to an end a lengthy battle for the single mother after she was left with the biggest parking fine in city’s history.

In a suit, filed against Preveau, United Airlines, and the city of Chicago, Fitzgerald contended that she should not be liable for the tickets. According to the court papers, first obtained by the Chicago website, The Expired Meter, Fitzgerald “was never the owner of the [automobile]… had no control over the [automobile] when the parking tickets were issued… [and] is not responsible for the parking tickets issued on the [automobile].”

Drew said it is the city’s understanding that the car was parked in the United Airlines’ lot at O’Hare Airport. Preveau works for United Airlines.

“The operator of the vehicle was a badged employee for United Airlines and therefore had authorization to park there while working,” Drew said. “It is also our understanding that the employee moved this vehicle a number of times in this United lot and that tickets being affixed to the vehicle were periodically removed. Therefore, a stack of tickets was not accruing on the vehicle.”

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, posted signs at the O’Hare lots note that if a vehicle is in a lot for more than 30 days without the lot operators being notified, then the company will attempt to contact the owner, but if the owner cannot be contacted, the vehicle will be towed to another lot before eventually being towed to the city impound lot as an abandoned vehicle.

According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by ABC News, Fitzgerald and Preveau dated for several years and had a daughter, named Zoe, together. While the couple was dating, Preveau in early 2008 purchased the purple Monte Carlo from Fitzgerald’s uncle Patrick Fitzgerald, using his 2007 income tax refund to pay $600 for the car.

Although Preveau was the car’s “principal driver,” he signed the title of the car to Jennifer. Sometime in November 2009, Preveau – no longer dating Fitzgerald – parked the car in United’s lot at O’Hare and the car that day started racking up tickets, marked as “hazardous” and “dilapidated” and, eventually, for being left in the lot for over 30 days.

In December 2009, Fitzgerald said she started receiving notices about the tickets and, unable to move the car since it was in a secure airport lot, she pleaded with her ex-boyfriend to move it. According to the lawsuit, on “occasions too numerous to list… Jennifer and members of Jennifer’s family have asked Brandon to move the [automobile].”

After Fitzgerald was hit with a fine of more than $105,000, she landed on the city’s Department of Revenue “Top 100 Scofflaw List,” and was told that she might have her driver’s license revoked.

According to the lawsuit, Fitzgerald believes United and the city of Chicago should have towed the car and junked it back in November 2009, rather than continuing to ticket it.

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