Parkinglot Operators Win Courts Approval To Seek A Share Of 14 Million Refund Of Citys Parking Surcharge
By Susan Stabley
Parking-lot operators should be able to participate in a class-action suit against the City of Miami’s parking surcharge, according to an order filed by a judge in the Third District Court of Appeal.
The May 14 order by Judge Margarita Esquiroz gives parking-lot owners a chance to receive part of a $14 million refund pool established in a settlement of the suit.
The suit was filed in reaction to a 20% surcharge on parking fees the city collected from Sept. 1, 1999, to Sept. 30, 2002. The district court and the state Supreme Court ruled that charge illegal.
A new law was written and the surcharge validated after the courts struck down a 1999 law establishing the surcharge. The surcharge will be in effect until Oct. 1, 2004.
The settlement calls for refunds to go to commuters exclusively. The May 14 order stems from an appeal filed by Parking Company of America Inc., operator of a parking lot near American Airlines Arena, which said it should get refunds because the company absorbed the surcharge rather than passing it on to customers. The order gives parking-lot operators the opportunity to argue their case in court before refunds start going out.
Parking company of America attorney Patrick A. Barry said Friday that he had not read the court order but was pleased that the appeal was successful.
Attorney Thomas Korge, who represented Patrick McGrath III of Pinecrest as plaintiff in the class action, said he expects the case to head back to trial court.
"I don’t know what direction this is going to go from here," Mr. Korge said Friday. "I still believe (commuters) will get a substantial amount of their money back."