In part of our search for information relevant to rental car users, we search information including legal records. And the City of Chicago and a Red Light Camera search came across in a recent search. Chicago itself has been "featured" in previous AutoSlash blog posts, such as the State Supreme Court (eventually) determining that the City of Chicago can't tax rentals that occur in cities other than Chicago (a lawsuit that somehow took six years to resolve). The recent settlement relates to the City of Chicago violating City of Chicago laws when it came to issuing tickets from red light cameras.
We've haven't been joking about Chicago being a city that's happy to exploit any possible revenue source. The Class Action settlement actually covers two different cases, with the city "alleged"* to have taken actions such as not sending required notifications, violating the city's own appeal procedures, and shortening the timelines that are codified in local statutes.
- "Alleged" because settlements don't require the defendant to accept responsibility. However, the City of Chicago was happy to cap the potential liability at $38.75 million rather than face trial.
The City is entering into this Agreement in order to compromise and resolve disputed claims that it believes are of doubtful validity so as to avoid further litigation given the current posture of the case. The City, by entering into this Agreement, does not admit liability and, in fact, expressly denies liability.
How Does this Settlement Impact Rental Car Users?
Rent in Chicago and incur one (or more) of these red light camera tickets? Paid off the rental car company for the citations as well as the "administrative fees". Well, it doesn't matter. Reading the settlement documents as an advocate for rental car customers, it was striking that the person who incurred and/or paid for the impacted citations (almost $40 million worth) doesn't compute into Chicago legal logic. Rental car consumers are ineligible to be considered in the settlement class. This was verified with a quick note to the attorneys representing the class.
Expecting part of this settlement as a rental car user? Look away, baby, look away.
So who benefits from a slice of this fairly large settlement? Potentially, the rental car companies, as they were the owners of the cited vehicles. The same rental car companies who already billed customers for the cost of those citations plus hefty per-ticket "administrative fees" through a service like American Traffic Solutions. If the rental car companies are on their game as "impacted entities", those companies could receive settlement checks from the City of Chicago for infractions that were paid by renters. Is that fair? Not exactly. But it does meet the definition of "legal enough" for the City of Chicago.
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