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On August 21, 2017, a Judge in Chicago preliminarily approved an unprecedented $38.75 Million settlement of a class action against the City of Chicago relating to the operation of its controversial speed and red light camera program.  The suit alleged that the City ignored the requirement under its own municipal code to issue the appropriate notice to accused drivers and provide a 14 day grace period prior to issuing a determination of liability, depriving vehicle owners of the statutorily required due process and pre-liability notice.  The suit also alleged that the City prematurely assessed late penalties in violation of its own municipal code.  Collectively, according to the suit, these practices unlawfully accelerate the City’s ability to issue, enforce and collect fines and penalties.

Under the settlement, class members will be eligible to receive a refund of up to half of all amounts paid or the extinguishment of half of any amounts outstanding on affected tickets.  In addition, the City agreed not to count any of the affected tickets for purposes of booting cars or revoking driver’s licenses.  The settlement also calls for the City to establish a debt relief program and automatically waive late payment penalties and collection fees if those are the only amounts owed.  The City also changed its notice and late payment penalty practices to conform to the law and, under the terms of the settlement, has agreed to continue to do so in the future.

If you believe you may be a class member you do not need to do anything at this time.  Within the next few months, a notice will be sent in the mail to those covered by the suit with further instructions.  The lawsuit only covers tickets on which a determination of liability was issued between March 23, 2010 and May 17, 2015.  A website will be set up shortly with more information about the settlement.

The historic settlement was covered by the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, WGN, CBS, NBC and Fox.

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On August 1, 2017, Myron M. Cherry & Associates filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Chicago on behalf of motorists who have been ticketed for distracted driving alleging that the City illegally stacked the deck against them in order to pocket millions of dollars in fines.  According to the suit, Illinois law requires all distracted driver tickets, i.e., those for using a mobile device while driving, be adjudicated in State traffic court where any resulting fines are shared with the State of Illinois and Cook County.  The suit alleges that for years the City illegally funneled these tickets to its own administrative courts, depriving citizens of due process and their day in court and allowing the City to keep all of the fines for itself.

The suit was covered by the Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and CBS Chicago.

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The United States District Court, in conjunction with the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, awarded Jacie C. Zolna, a partner at Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC, with their annual Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service. The Award is presented to area attorneys for their contributions in helping those most in need of assistance through pro bono work before the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. This is the second time Mr. Zolna has been a recipient of the Award, having also received it in 2013.

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A Federal Judge in San Francisco granted final approval of a class action settlement in a lawsuit against Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”).

The lawsuit alleged that Uber charged a 20% fee above the metered fare for each ride that it misrepresented as a “gratuity” that is automatically added “for the driver,” but instead retained a substantial portion of this “gratuity” for itself.  After defeating a motion to dismiss and certifying the case as a class action, the parties reached a settlement that provided full refunds of the amounts allegedly retained by Uber.

In approving the settlement, the Federal Judge who presided over the case found “that the Settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable,” noting that it “provides substantial relief to Class Members in that it refunds essentially the full amount of the gratuity charge Plaintiff claimed was retained by Uber.”

The class was represented by Myron M. Cherry and Jacie C. Zolna of Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC.

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On February 10, 2017, a Federal Judge in Chicago granted final approval of a $2 Million settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by management pilots at United Airline against their union, Air Line Pilots Association, International (“ALPA”).

The suit alleged that ALPA breached its duty of fair representation in connection with the distribution of a lump sum payment from United Airlines for retroactive pay that was supposed to compensate pilots for a nearly three year delay in reaching a new collective bargaining agreement in 2012.  According to the lawsuit, ALPA created special rules and exceptions to its distribution methodology for a minority group of management pilots that artificially and arbitrarily reduced their share of retroactive pay or cut them out all together.  The $2 Million settlement represents a substantial portion of what the class would have received had they succeeded at trial.

Myron M. Cherry and Jacie C. Zolna of Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC represented the class of United management pilots in the suit.

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In late December of 2016, the City of Chicago began issuing “review” notices to motorists previously accused of speed and red light camera violations which purport to allow them another opportunity to contest violations that allegedly occurred years ago.  Don’t be fooled.  This is not some altruistic effort by the City, but rather an effort to interfere with a lawsuit challenging the validity of the very violations included in these review notices.

In March of 2015, our law firm filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago for its failure to properly notify motorist of alleged speed and red light camera violations and for prematurely accelerating late penalties.  In February of 2016, the Judge in that suit issued an order finding that such practices would render the fines and penalties associated with those violations to be void.  The suit, which has since been certified as a class action, seeks a refund of all amounts paid and the extinguishment of any debt owed to the City.

The new “review” notices motorists are receiving were issued pursuant to an ordinance quietly passed by the City Council in September of 2016, the purpose of which is not to help motorist, but rather impose “new and separate” liabilities for the old tickets that will likely be held invalid in the pending lawsuit.  Make no mistake, these “review” notices are nothing but a scam by the City to collect illegal fines and penalties.  Our firm filed a second lawsuit on November 1, 2016 challenging the legality of the new ordinance. If successful, all of the “review” notices sent out by the City, as well as the “new and separate” liabilities they purport to create, will be vacated.  A copy of the lawsuit can be viewed here.

CBS Chicago ran a story on the “review” notices that can be viewed here.  Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun Times also wrote a story that you can read here.  Chicago Tribune coverage of the widespread problems the City had in implementing its “review” program can be read here.

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On November 2, 2016, a Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois found that a lawsuit against the City of Chicago challenging the legality of its speed and red light camera enforcement program can proceed as a class action.  The suit alleges that the City of Chicago ignored the requirement under its own municipal code to issue the appropriate notice to accused drivers and provide a 14-day grace period prior to issuing a determination of liability, depriving vehicle owners of the statutorily required due process and pre-liability notice.  The suit also alleges that the City prematurely assessed late penalties in violation of its own municipal code.  Collectively, according to the suit, these practices unlawfully accelerated the City’s ability to issue, enforce and collect fines and penalties.

In a prior ruling in the lawsuit, the Court found that the City’s failure to follow these requirements rendered the speed and red light camera violation illegal and void.  The ruling granting class certification allows the Plaintiffs to pursue these claims on behalf of the approximately 1.5 Million people affected by these practices and seek to invalidate and/or recoup approximately $500 Million in fines and penalties.

The Court appointed Myron Cherry and Jacie Zolna of Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC as class counsel.

The ruling was covered by the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times and WBEZ Radio.

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A lawsuit challenges a new Chicago ordinance intended to turn hundreds of millions of dollars worth of invalid speed and red light camera tickets into brand new debts.  Mayor Emanuel can’t have his fairy tale ending.

In an effort to avoid the consequences of a high-stakes lawsuit filed by motorists, the City of Chicago, at the behest of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, passed an ordinance on September 21, 2016 which purports to authorize new administrative hearings on alleged speed and red light camera offenses that occurred years ago and which had already been found illegal and void.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel quietly proposed the ordinance after a Judge ruled that hundreds of millions of dollars in past speed and red light camera rickets are void because the City failed to provide mandatory notices to drivers and then charged late penalties that drivers did not actually owe.

On November 1, 2016, two motorists filed suit challenging the legality and constitutionality of the ordinance.  The first page of the lawsuit reads:

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time, there was a Mayor out of luck.

The Mayor had spent his City’s last buck.

 

He asked all of his horses and men what to do,

but not a single one had a solitary clue.

 

But then a new staffer, short in stature, had a plan.

A plan that would fix all the problems in the land.

 

“Mr. Mayor!” he cried. “I know just what to do!

We’ll spin straw into gold to raise revenue.”

 

The Mayor got quiet. You could only hear crickets.

He had no straw at all, just void speed camera tickets.

 

The little aide jumped up. “Those old tickets are fine! The red light tickets too! We’ll take these void tickets and turn old debts into new!”

 

The Mayor smiled.  He just had to laugh.

You can always balance the budget with Rumpelstiltskin on staff.

  1. Unfortunately, this is no fairy tale. It is just the latest chapter in the City of Chicago’s scandal-plagued speed and red light camera program.
  1. Over the past decade, the City has collected hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and penalties from individuals accused of speed and red light camera violations. Because the City failed to properly notify these individuals of their alleged violations and illegally sped up the imposition of liability, a Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County recently held that those fines and penalties are illegal and void.  See Simpson et al. v. City of Chicago, Case No. 15 CH 4802 (Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois).
  1. On the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal fines and penalties, the City recently passed an ordinance that purports to allow it to issue new tickets and initiate new hearings that will create new liabilities, fines and penalties based on tickets issued years ago that a Judge has already ruled were void.
  1. Unfortunately for the City, in the real world Rumpelstiltskin cannot save the day. That is because the Illinois Vehicle Code and the Illinois and United States Constitutions specifically prohibit the procedures the Ordinance purports to authorize.

According to lawyers for the Plaintiffs, the new ordinance is illegal because the Illinois Vehicle Code sets forth specified procedures that must be followed for the enforcement of speed and red light camera violations and the ordinance is inconsistent with nearly every one of those procedural safeguards.  The lawsuit also claims that the ordinance violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Illinois and United States Constitutions.

The lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Myron M. Cherry & Associates in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

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On April 4, 2016, a Federal Judge in Chicago preliminarily approved a settlement of a class action brought on behalf of a group of former male inmates who were found not guilty or otherwise acquitted of the charges brought against them.  The suit alleged that the Sheriff of Cook County unlawfully detained class members after they were declared free men in court, either by virtue of a not guilty verdict or other dismissal of the charges.  The settlement requires the Sheriff’s Office to modify its release procedures to ensure prompt identification and release of male inmates who are found not guilty or otherwise acquitted, and also provides for monetary payments to class members.

Two lawyers from Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC, Myron Cherry and Jacie Zolna, are class counsel in the case.

More information about the settlement can be found at www.cookcountysettlement.com.

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On February 19, 2016, a Circuit Court Judge in Chicago allowed a class action to go forward against the City of Chicago relating to the operation of its controversial speed and red light camera program.  The suit alleges that the City ignored the requirement under its own municipal code to issue the appropriate notice to accused drivers and provide a 14 day grace period prior to issuing a determination of liability, depriving vehicle owners of the statutorily required due process and pre-liability notice.  The suit also alleges that the City prematurely assesses late penalties in violation of its own municipal code.  Collectively, according to the suit, these practices unlawfully accelerate the City’s ability to issue, enforce and collect fines and penalties.

In rejecting the City’s efforts to dismiss the case, the Court found that as a result of the City’s failure to follow its own laws “the determinations of liability are void” and that the City’s retention of payments from those tickets “violates the fundamental principles of justice, equity, and good conscience.”

Myron M. Cherry and Jacie C. Zolna of Myron M. Cherry & Associates, LLC represent the plaintiffs.

To read the coverage of the lawsuit in the Chicago Sun Times, click here and here.  Several other news outlets also reported on the lawsuit, which can be viewed here (ABC Chicago), here (NBC Chicago) and here (WGN).