CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
Citation527 F. Supp. 724
Docket NumberNo. 80 Civ. 0012 (PNL).,80 Civ. 0012 (PNL).
Decision Date18 November 1981

James I. Meyerson, Thomas Hoffman, New York City, for plaintiff.

Carl Sanders and Judah Harris, Corp. Counsel, New York City, for defendant.


LEVAL, District Judge.

Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming to have been denied due process and equal protection of the laws by the seizure of his automobile after a default judgment for unpaid parking violations under § 241 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic law and the regulations promulgated thereunder.

Plaintiff claims to be a resident of North Carolina. Although plaintiff's residence is disputed, it is not disputed that his car was registered in North Carolina. North Carolina is one of ten states that do not provide New York with a computer tape identifying their automobile registrants. Plaintiff was issued and did not respond to several parking summonses in New York City. A default judgment was obtained against him. The judgment was executed upon by the Marshal, who seized plaintiff's car. The car was released to him when he paid the amount of the judgment, plus fees and impounding charges.

Plaintiff claims not to have received any of his many original summonses. Plaintiff claims also that the original summonses, even if received, would not provide sufficient notice, because, while they do say

Failure to answer this summons within 7 days will be deemed an admission of liability. Additional penalties will be added and may lead to a default judgment

they do not mention that a default judgment could result in execution upon property.

Each party moves for summary judgment; plaintiff also moves for class certification.

Section 241 provides as follows: When the operator or owner of a car has failed to plead or appear in response to a parking violation, a default judgment may be entered. If the owner is a New York resident, he or she must be notified, by first-class mail, of the violations charged, of the impending default judgment, where the default would be entered, and that it could be avoided by entering a plea or appearance within 30 days. In practice, the notice advises, although this is not required by the statute, that default could result in execution upon the property or income of the individual. Section 241 expressly provides that this notice need not be sent to non-residents of New York State.

The PVB practice is as follows: In all cases of parking violations, summonses are left on the vehicles. If they are not paid, and the car is registered in New York, the in-state owner receives a series of notices, as required by § 241, one of which includes the additional information that a default judgment could result in execution upon property. If the car has an out-of-state registration, the procedure depends upon the state of registration. The PVB has arranged with 39 states (the "cooperating states") to receive registration information on a computer tape compatible with New York's computer system; the PVB can therefore easily identify the names and addresses of the registered owners. The owners are then sent a series of notices substantially identical to those sent to New York residents. If the car is registered in one of the 10 states, including plaintiff's state of North Carolina, that do not provide such computerized information (the "non-cooperating states"), the PVB cannot obtain the names and addresses of owners without the considerable expense of writing for each unpaid ticket to the state of registration and entering the information by hand when it received a reply. Since the expense of following such a procedure far exceeds the revenues which would be produced by it,* New York does not undertake to learn the identity of the owner unless and until the car is seized for unpaid summonses. Accordingly no further notices are sent until such event.

Under the PVB's practices, cars are not seized for unpaid parking summonses unless there is a minimum of three tickets and $200.00 in unpaid fines outstanding. If a car from a non-cooperating state has been towed and is not claimed, the Marshal writes to the Motor Vehicle Department or equivalent agency of the state of registration, asking for the name and address of the registered owner and warning that the car will be sold. If this information is not received, the Marshal then sends a Mailgram to the state, asking again for the information and warning again of imminent sale. When the address is received, the Marshal sends a Mailgram to the owner, which states, "Please be advised that your identified vehicle has been impounded by New York Parking Violation Bureau and will be sold at public...

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3 cases
  • Wilkes v. Young, 92-2177
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • July 12, 1994
    ...Chicago, 932 F.2d 1171, 1173 (7th Cir.1991) ("parking ticket is itself a notice"); Morris v. City of New York Parking Violations Bureau, 527 F.Supp. 724, 726 (S.D.N.Y.1981) (parking summons placed on car but alleged never to have been received provides prior notice of car seizure for unpaid......
  • Dixon v. McMullen, Civ. A. No. 4-80-443.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • November 18, 1981
    ......Thereafter, he began his duty with the City of River Oaks, Texas as a reserve police officer. ...Supp. 716 violations of the equal protection and due process clauses. ...442, 74 S.Ct. 650, 98 L.Ed. 829 (1953) (New York statute stated a physician convicted of any crime ......
  • Blum v. Koch, 85 Civ. 4385 (MGC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • June 26, 1989
    ......KOCH, in his official capacity Mayor of the City of New York; Robert J. Morgenthau, District ... Creditor; The City of New York; The Parking Violations Bureau of the City of New York; ... See also Morris v. City of New York Parking Violations Bureau, ......

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