PPA lawyers seek to remove class action suit over parking fees to federal court

By Jon Campisi | Feb 25, 2013

Nearly a month after a Philadelphia woman filed a class action lawsuit against the

Philadelphia Parking Authority in state court, lawyers representing the enforcement agency have petitioned the U.S. District Court to transfer the case to the federal venue.

Attorneys Dennis G. Weldon, Jr. and Bryan L. Heulitt, Jr., who represent the PPA, filed a Notice of Removal on Feb. 21 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, saying that the litigation initiated back on Jan. 29 by city resident Angela Parsons should play out in federal court.

In her complaint, which seeks class certification, Parsons claims that the PPA charged motorists for street parking in Philadelphia on days when the meters were supposed to be free.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Philadelphia lawyer Edward S. Mazurek, alleges that on days when parking was supposed to have been free, the PPA “nevertheless collected and retained parking fees from the Class Members through parking meters and meter kiosks for such street parking by failing and refusing to deactivate the meters and meter kiosks, or otherwise program them so that they did not accept payments, and by failing and refusing to post adequate notices on meters and meter kiosks that parking was free.”

The PPA’s actions, the suit claims, violated the class members’ equal protection and due process of law guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The agency’s policies have also resulted in unjust enrichment of the PPA by the class members under Pennsylvania common law, the complaint alleges.

In the removal notice, the PPA’s attorneys wrote that the U.S. District Court has jurisdiction over the case because it contains allegations of federal civil rights violations in addition to the state law claims.

As for lead plaintiff Parsons, she claims in her civil action that she paid for metered parking in Philadelphia on Saturdays between Nov. 24 and Dec. 29 of last year when parking was supposed to have been free of charge.

There were no signs indicating that parking was free at the time, the suit alleges, and meter kiosks were turned on and able to accept payment for parking when no payment was required because of the city’s offering of free parking during certain times throughout the week.

“The PPA, in adopting and implementing the policies and practices alleged in this Complaint, have caused the constitutional violations to the Named Plaintiff and Class Members and has been unjustly enriched by the Named Plaintiff and Class Members,” the complaint reads.

In addition to seeking class certification, the lawsuit seeks restitution of any and all payments made by the class members to the PPA for metered parking in the city when and where parking was free of charge, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, declaratory relief that the PPA violated the plaintiffs’ rights, and a permanent injunction prohibiting the PPA from accepting payments made for metered parking when parking is supposed to be free.

The complaint also seeks attorney’s fees and costs.

The state court case ID number is 130103419.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-00955-TON. 

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