Appeal Reopens Refund Deadline Issues In Miamis Parking Surcharge Lawsuit
By Susan Stabley
A recent appeal of the legal settlement over the City of Miami’s parking surcharge opens the argument of whether parking-lot operators should be able to stake a claim to a share of millions of dollars.
A settlement fund of $14 million was created to refund the city’s 20% surcharge placed on parking fees collected from Sept. 1, 1999, to Sept. 30, 2002. The Third District Court of Appeal found the law creating the fee to be invalid as first written in 1999. That decision was further affirmed in July 2002 by the Supreme Court of Florida.
The law allowing the surcharge has since been rewritten and Miami’s parking fee is in effect until Oct. 1, 2004. It was created to offset property taxes while the city was having serious financial problems.
The class-action suit is intended to find relief for anyone who parked in the city, said attorney Thomas Korge, representing Patrick McGrath III of Pinecrest as plaintiff. The number of the claims, largely from commuters who pay on a weekly or monthly basis, could be "in the thousands," Mr. Korge said.
"We won’t know until everyone has filed," he said.
Now, a parking-lot operator contends that fees were never increased on company lots to cover the hike imposed by the city and wants a stake of the settlement, said attorney Joseph Serota, who represented the city’s side in the suit
It’s a situation that finds both the city and the plaintiff in agreement on who should be entitled to the $14 million settlement.
"We’ve been together on this," Mr. Serota said. "It should be the people who parked the car."
For the time, the appeal opens the deadline to file for settlement refunds for an undetermined amount of time. Those with questions on making a claim can call the settlement’s administrators at 1-877-647-5879.