The City of Belleville says its vehicle redemption fee is “valid and reasonable” in a man’s lawsuit alleging he had to pay an “excessive” fee following an arrest.
Jeffrey Dewalt, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, filed the lawsuit on Oct. 28 against the City of Belleville.
According to the complaint, Dewalt was arrested by a Belleville police officer on Dec. 9, 2014, and his vehicle was towed. He later had to pay a redemption fee, which was charged by the city. He is now challenging the fee.
According to city ordinance, the fee charged for towing is $100 if the arrest was for a violation or misdemeanor and is $500 if the arrest is for a felony, the suit states.
Dewalt alleges the amount of time expended by the Belleville Police Department is the same regardless of the nature of the arrest.
He seeks a judgment in his favor, the return of all monies assessed by the defendant, court costs and attorney’s fees.
The City of Belleville answered the complaint on Jan. 11 through attorney Thomas Hunter of Becker Hoerner Thompson & Ysursa in Belleville, asserting 10 affirmative defenses against the plaintiff.
The defendant argues that the ordinance in question imposes a valid and reasonable administrative fee and fine.
It also alleges protection under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.
Further, the City of Belleville argues that the plaintiff lacks standing to make this lawsuit a class action.
Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson scheduled a status conference for May 16 at 9 a.m.
The plaintiff is represented by Brian Polinske of Edwardsville.
St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 15-L-613