Attorney must pay parking ticket, nothing more, court holds

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that an attorney who was given a $20 parking ticket that ended up costing him $150 in late fees only needs to pay his ticket. The attorney sought $2,500 in damages and fees over the incident.

James Gilday parked on the street instead of his normal garage when going to work in October of 2012 because the entrance to it was blocked by a charity run. After he finished his work, he came back to find a $20 parking ticket because he did not pay the meter. He paid the fine on time, he presumed.

A month later, Gilday received a letter saying his citation remained unpaid, but he ignored it. The city was actually charging him a late fee, but the letter did not say that. Another letter a few months later said there would be an administrative hearing on his ticket, but he ignored that as well and did not show up to the hearing. The administrative judge entered a $150 default judgment against him. Gilday filed an action to review the administrative decision, asking the trial court to vacate the judgment, refund his ticket and give him no less than $2,500 in damages, but the trial court found the $150 fine was appropriate. Gilday appealed.

Judge John Baker wrote the decision in the case and began by noting this was the first case in which a parking ticket had been successfully appealed to the COA.

Baker wrote Gilday must have paid his ticket on time because the date on the check was within the time frame, and the city misplaced the envelope that had the postmark. There was no other evidence that disputes the fact. Because of that, the court had no legal authority to assess the late fee or demand the hearing.

Gilday claimed that a police officer directed him away from his normal parking spot, so he shouldn’t have to pay his parking fine, but Baker wrote that nobody forced Gilday to park where he did and not pay the meter.

Gilday also claimed the city of Indianapolis should have been sanctioned by the trial court because of the difficulty he had obtaining his record for the trial and the deficiencies of the versions of the record he obtained. However, the COA said it could not find evidence of any sanctionable behavior.

The case is James Gilday v. City of Indianapolis, 49A02-1506-CT-715.

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