A Michigan city agreed to pay $1,000 to a driver to settle a lawsuit about marking tires to catch parking violators.
The deal in Bay City followed a declaration in August that a similar practice in Saginaw was illegal. U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington said chalking tires without a warrant violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
“The whole point of this is to set clear lines,” attorney Phil Ellison said Thursday. “Police just can’t kick down your door. The same parallel here is when the government starts messing with our cars.”
Jody Tyvela received tickets at least six times in 2016-17. Without having time meters, parking enforcers marked tires to determine who was parked too long in downtown Bay City.
Tyvela will receive $1,000 and her attorneys will get $59,000 under the settlement with Bay City and the city’s Downtown Development Authority. The Development Authority was responsible for most of it.
Messages seeking comment were left with city officials.
Thousands of parking tickets based on tire markings likely were written in Bay City. But the class-action status of the lawsuit fizzled because the city lacked complete records, Ellison said.
And, like the Saginaw case, vehicle owners only would have received $1 for each marking, he said.
“There was no good way to proceed,” Ellison said.
The judge said tire marking was unconstitutional after Ellison won key decisions at a federal appeals court whose opinions cover Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.
A federal appeals court with jurisdiction in nine western states made a different decision in October in a tire-marking case from San Diego.