Illinois resident Jennifer Fitzgerald holds a record she never wanted to achieve -- the 31-year-old single mother received the highest number of parking tickets and accumulated the largest amount in fines that Chicago has ever seen.
Fitzgerald owes $105,761.80 for 678 parking tickets issued over nearly three years on a 1999 Chevy Monte Carlo registered in her name, Chicago's Department of Finance told the Expired Meter blog. In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Fitzgerald states that she did not commit any of the parking infractions and does not even own the car.
According to court documents, Fitzgerald claims that Brandon Preveau, her ex-boyfriend, purchased the vehicle from her uncle for $600 in 2008 and registered the car in her name without her knowledge. A year later, after having a baby together, the couple broke up and Preveau took the car with him. An employee of United Airlines, Preveau reportedly parked the car at O'Hare International Airport before eventually abandoning the vehicle. That's when fines began to accrue.
On Nov. 17, 2009, the car received seven separate parking tickets for violations ranging from expired plates to parking a vehicle in a city-owned lot for more than 30 days. Despite the city law and and O'Hare's own parking policies, the car was not immediately towed and stayed in the lot, racking up more parking violations through April 30, 2012.
"No one took it upon themselves, took the initiative and said, ‘hey, we got a problem here, this car has been here for months, and years, collecting all these tickets,'" Mike Brockway, who runs local blog theexpiredmeter.com, told Fox 32 News Chicago.
Fitzgerald is pursuing legal action, holding that the city violated its own policy by failing to tow and impound the vehicle, and instead ticketing the abandoned car hundreds of time over nearly three years. The city is disputing Fitzgerald's claim.
According to Fox 32 News, a department spokesman said that "the employee moved this vehicle a number of times in this United lot. A stack of tickets was not accruing on the vehicle."
The case is set to go to court next spring, but Fitzgerald's license has been suspended in the meantime.