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The settlement agreement also calls for City Hall to correspond with two classes of persons to inform them in greater detail why their respective parking ticket appeals may have been denied.
The settlement agreement also calls for City Hall to correspond with two classes of persons to inform them in greater detail why their respective parking ticket appeals may have been denied.

News, City Council, Santa Monica

Santa Monica Parking Ticket Lawsuit Settled For $77.5K

Posted Aug. 31, 2012, 1:36 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

City Hall has come to a settlement agreement with Stanley and Harriet Epstein worth $77,500, it was announced Tuesday by Santa Monica’s City Attorney Marsha Jones-Moutrie.

The settlement ends a 14-month legal matter where the Epsteins alleged a flawed parking citation appeals process and claimed the officials on behalf of the City of Santa Monica violated the California Vehicle Code by failing to provide proper explanations of why automobilists were cited.

“Specifically the case has to do with how much information needs to be provided to the person who received the ticket and files the appeal,” Moutrie said.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Epsteins would receive $12,500 from the ACS, while the City would pay their attorney $65,000.

ACS is the company contracted by City Hall to process the parking citations.

The settlement agreement also calls for City Hall to correspond with two classes of persons to inform them in greater detail why their respective appeals may have been denied.

“The City and ACS would offer to persons who received traffic tickets more information about why the ticket against them was upheld. There would be no admission of liability by the City,” Moutrie said. “In addition, the City and ACS would send letters to two classes of persons who in the past received and appealed parking citations. Those classes would be the people who had received a citation and requested only initial and informal review.”

The city estimates there are 18,000 motorists in the first group and 2,500 in the second

who are affected by this settlement.

The second class of people includes those who not only requested the review but also attended an administrative hearing.

Council members approved the settlement in a 5 to 0 vote; Mayor Richard Bloom and Council member Terry O’Day were not on the dais during the roll call.

The settlement negotiations stemmed from a class action lawsuit brought against City Hall by the Epsteins as part of a disputed parking ticket. Harriet Epstein challenged the validity of a parking ticket last year and followed standard procedure in her contest. However, she alleged that the City’s Parking Violations Bureau (PVB) upheld the violation but failed to state why.

Under the California Vehicle Code, she contended, the PVB was required to explain its reasons when denying a challenge. The Epsteins allege they were not given any explanations as to why the challenged parking ticket was deemed valid – an inaction the plaintiffs claimed was contrary to state law.

Interestingly enough, City Hall had previously announced a resolution in this case. According to a statement released by the plaintiffs, “City Attorney Marsha Moutrie and City Manager Rod Gould told Council, residents and the media that a full settlement had been reached and the Epsteins would reap a windfall of $75,000 less a legal fee.”

That was Feb. 28, according to the Epsteins.

Post a comment


Aug. 31, 2012, 2:31:43 am

Concerned Citizen said...

$65,000 in legal fees to settle a disagreement about a city parking ticket? What? Real good use of scarce city resources. Where do I sign up to get those kind of legal fees?

Aug. 31, 2012, 5:35:55 am

rubin said...

Although I agree the city of SM should be punished for their wrongdoing , it makes me want to vomit thinking of the scumbag lawyer getting $65K!

Aug. 31, 2012, 12:05:52 pm

Stan Epstein said...

The comments by "concerned citizen" and "rubin" are ludicrous. The case was not over one ticket. The City violated State law in over 20,000 cases. By Santa Monica's own estimate, 18,000 motorists received faulty initial reviews of their tickets and 2,500 never got copies of their Hearing Examiner's ruling. The settlement forces the City to give them relief and, in some cases, refund of fines.. For full details of the just how the appeals procedure will work, see the full settlement on my attorney's website:

Aug. 31, 2012, 4:28:19 pm

Jerry Rubin said...

Just pointing out that the comment by rubin is not by me. I had received a call from Stan Epstein thinking it might have been me, but I just wanted to make this comment to make sure others don't. I will always include my first and last name whenever I do comment on various articles.

Aug. 31, 2012, 5:38:50 pm

Bob Abernethy said...

Regardless of how City Attorney Marsha Jones-Moutrie spins it, this case has always been about the City's attempts to play "hide the ball" when dealing with people who chose to exercise their Constitutionally protected rights of due process. The Epsteins were not about to take it lying down, and rather than admit their error, the City staff chose to squander a significant sum of money and who-knows-how-much in staff time - which we SAMO taxpayers are also on the hook for. What remains to be seen is whether or not the involved staff - can you hear me, Marsha

Feb. 12, 2013, 2:35:47 pm

Joseph Darling said...

The growing municipal revenues from parking tickets are also spawning community activism in the form of mobile phone applications. This one gives a driver up-to-the-minute locations of parking enforcement to asses their risk of over-staying paid parking.

Dec. 25, 2013, 9:15:15 pm

Susan said...

Santa Monica is very shady and unfair towards the citizen. They fine you double the ticket if they have not received payment in 30 days -a little excessive when the parking ticket starts out at $65, isn't it?

Dec. 25, 2013, 9:18:56 pm

Susan said...

They are the only city I know of that charges you to see a judge, and then the judge is also questionable on their judgement. By the way, their signs are also deceiving - when looking at no parking from 7am to 2am at night, one could easily make a mistake. So the city is allowing parking only from 2am to 7am? Come on! Who parks at that hour? It's not about fairness, justice - it's all about revenue generation, no matter how deceiving and unjust they are to get it.

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