Four class actions filed against Madison County cities; Suits claim excessive tow fees after DUI arrests
Four putative class action lawsuits have been filed against the cities of Edwardsville, Collinsville, Granite City and Alton, alleging the cities overcharged for towing fees after arresting drivers accused of driving under the influence.
Allan Lewis, Amy Kopesky, David Funkhouser and Matthew E. Carter allege the cities charged them hundreds of dollars in fees to retrieve towed vehicles. All four were accused of driving under the influence and claim they were forced to pay excessive fees because of their citations. However, if a car is towed under any other circumstances, the cities charge "a fraction of that amount," according to the complaints filed Dec. 6 in Madison County Circuit Court.
Lewis claims he was cited and arrested on May 20. As a result, his car was towed. When Lewis attempted to reclaim his vehicle from the city of Edwardsville, he was required to pay an administrative processing fee of $300, the suit states. After paying the fee, Lewis was given a receipt, which he was then allowed to use to retrieve his vehicle, the complaint says.
Kopesky claims she was also cited and arrested on Dec. 2, 2010. In order to retrieve her car from the tow company, Kopesky was required to pay a level one administrative fee to Collinsville of $500, according to the complaint.
Funkhouser claims he was cited and arrested on July 10. His car was towed. To retrieve it, he was forced to pay a level one administrative fee to Granite City of $400, the suit states.
Carter claims he was cited and arrested on June 26. His car was towed. To get his car from the tow company, Carter was forced to pay a level one administrative fee to Alton of $500, the complaint says.
"The fees required under the above ordinances have no rational basis in accomplishing the means as stated by the ordinance," Lewis's suit states. "There is no rational justification for imposing $300 administrative fee upon a motorist to merely issue that person a receipt stating they have paid $300."
In their complaints, Lewis, Kopesky, Funkhouser and Carter are seeking a refund for the administrative fee they were forced to pay, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.
Eric D. Holland and Steven L. Groves of Holland, Groves, Schneller and Stolze in St. Louis and Brian L. Polinske of Polinske and Associates in Edwardsville will be representing them.
Madison County Circuit Court case numbers: 11-L-1304, 11-L-1306, 11-L-1307, 11-L-1305.