Jon Campisi Sep. 18, 2012, 8:52am

A Philadelphia man has petitioned the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to order the immediate return of his seized vehicle, which had been impounded late last month over an alleged driving infraction.

Kenneth Lee’s pro se petition alleges that Philadelphia police officers were wrong to instruct the Philadelphia Parking Authority to tow Lee’s vehicle on Aug. 25 after an encounter with the cops in West Philadelphia.

According to the petition, officers stopped Lee in the vicinity of 56th and Stewart Streets, where they asked Lee to produce his driver’s license and vehicle registration information.

Lee handed over a Pennsylvania Limited License and Authorization Letter, which allows Lee to drive between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

At about 7:45 p.m. that day, officers wrote Lee a ticket for driving on a suspended license, at which time Lee’s vehicle was impounded by the Philadelphia Parking Authority in accordance with the city’s “Live Stop” Program.

On Aug. 27, Lee heard from officials with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, who informed the plaintiff that his limited license was indeed valid, and that he should meet with a supervisor at the Philadelphia Police Department about the matter.

Lee was later told by a Philadelphia Traffic Court representative that he would have to pay the tow and storage fees in order to get his vehicle released, even though the “underlying reason for seizing Plaintiff’s vehicle was unwarranted and therefore illegal,” the petition reads.

Lee’s filing contends that the actions taken by the Philadelphia Police Department and Philadelphia Traffic Court constitute a “flagrant intrusion of his guaranteed rights to his lawfully obtained and legally maintained property.”

“Based on all the information surrounding the traffic stop made by the Philadelphia Police Department, there is not one iota of evidence that would support the seizure of Plaintiff’s property,” the petition states. “To inform Plaintiff that he would still have to pay for the illegal tow and storage fees incurred is the equivalent of the definition surrounding extortion to say the least.”

Lee claims that being without a vehicle has caused him great hardship, specifically relating to the care of his daughter, as well as limiting his ability to seek out gainful employment.

In addition to seeking the return of his property, Lee seeks $100,000 in punitive damages for what the petition calls the “callous, blatant and gross disregard for Plaintiff’s guaranteed rights coupled by the defendant’s hindrance of Plaintiff’s pursuit of happiness, along with the inherent hardship caused Plaintiff.”


The case ID number is 120900916. 

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