Attorneys differ by more than $100M in latest BMV lawsuit

Attorneys for the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and for plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the agency differ by more than $100 million in how much it should repay motorists for overcharged license and title fees.

Attorney Irwin Levin argued during a one-day bench trial Wednesday the BMV should refund a total of $144 million in overcharges going back 10 years, plus interest. Lewin also presented alternative refund scenarios as low as $76 million.

"If someone takes something from you that doesn't belong to them, they have to give it back," Levin said.

However, BMV attorney Carl Hayes said the agency has calculated only $32 million in overcharges and that the statute of limitations doesn't allow plaintiffs to seek refunds going back 10 years. He also asked Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley to dismiss the lawsuit because the agency already is in the process of refunding the $32 million.

"This kind of lawsuit is bad for Hoosiers, bad for taxpayers," Hayes said.

Hanley did not immediately rule, asking for an extension to decide whether the BMV owes more than the $32 million it is in the process of refunding, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The bench trial came almost three years after the agency settled another class-action lawsuit for $30 million that dealt with driver's licenses. The current lawsuit involves fees for motor vehicle and semitrailer registration and personalized license plates.

An outside audit released in 2015 showed the agency overcharged customers by $60 million. It also highlighted problems that led to the overcharging, including a lack of oversight and accountability of employees, as well as problems with the computer system.

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