Federal lawsuit challenges Chicago's 'tow and sell' program

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CHICAGO — A federal lawsuit claims the City of Chicago is unlawfully towing away cars and selling them.

The suit claims this happened to more than 19,000 vehicles in 2017.

The plaintiffs claim the city tows impounds, and sells cars because the owners have as few as two outstanding tickets.

Once the sale is made, none of that money goes toward compensating the owner or toward his tickets.

“They would rather take my vehicle, sell it for $204, leave it with the remaining of the debt for me to haggle between my bank and my creditor,” said plaintiff Joseph Walawski. “And I still had to pay the fine.”

Walawski said the city took his car, and sold it, in 2018. He still owed $17,000 on the loan he used to buy it.

“This practice has to stop and if past is prologue only a lawsuit will force the City to change its ways,” said attorney Jacie Zolna. “Permanently dispossessing Chicagoans of their vehicles for nothing more than an unpaid parking ticket is clearly excessive. It also constitutes a taking without just compensation and is unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit also names the City’s tow contractor, United Road Towing, as a defendant.

Neither the city, nor United Road Towing, has commented.

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