Residents file class action lawsuit against city of Long Beach over seizure of their vehicles

Daniel Guma says the City of Long Beach denied him of his Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when city officials threatened to seize his vehicle without providing him a chance to plead his case.

Jon Dowding

Feb 23, 2024, 3:46 AM

Updated 50 days ago

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The City of Long Beach faces a class action lawsuit filed by residents who claim the city violated their constitutional rights by seizing their vehicles and not allowing them the chance to plead their case before the seizure of their vehicles.
Daniel Guma says the City of Long Beach denied him of his Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when city officials threatened to seize his vehicle without providing him a chance to plead his case.
"There is no courtroom for these tickets. There's only a cashier,” he said.
Back in October 2022, Guma found a ticket on his car one morning for not moving his vehicle before 9 a.m. Before he could move his vehicle, a parking enforcement agent stopped him.
"She comes running out of the car and she throws her hands on my door sill and says, 'You're not going nowhere,'" he said.
His vehicle was about to get a boot for a third-vehicle violation. He had to go to City Hall and pay $375 - otherwise the city would take his vehicle in 72 hours. Guma says he paid off previous violations and had evidence to prove why he shouldn't have received new violations, but he had no opportunity for a hearing.
“So why can't I plead my case?” he said. "Are you telling me I'm not allowed my day in court for the argument to be made about that boot not being there?"
Guma and at least three others joined a class action lawsuit against the city's boot and tow law.
The law allows for the city to boot someone's vehicle after receiving three vehicle violations and a driver has 72 hours to pay to remove the boot before the vehicle is towed.
Guma’s attorney Andrew Campanelli, who’s leading the class action lawsuit, says the city and towing company piles on other fees as well.
"Add on a $200 administrative fee, a $125 tow fee, and other fees,” he said. “Then if you did not pay all of the money, they demanded within 30 days from the date of the booting, they could sell your car."
Campanelli says without a chance for a hearing, Long Beach violated Guma’s and other resident’s due process rights under the Constitution.
"In many cases, the tickets are not yet adjudicated,” said Campanelli. “The person may be completely innocent of the wrongdoing, such as Mr. Guma. They gave him three tickets for lacking an inspection sticker when the inspection sticker was on the window."
Long Beach isn't the only municipality with a boot and tow law like this on the books. Campaneli says the Village of Freeport also isn't giving drivers the chance to plead their case before seizing their vehicle says
“In the Village of Freeport, they seize a car if there’s three or more tickets,” said Campanelli. “It doesn’t matter if the return debt is passed or not. If you’ve got three tickets, they can seize your car.”
The City of Long Beach told News 12 it does not comment on pending litigation.
Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy told News 12 in a statement:
“Generally, the village does not comment on pending litigation. But in this instance, there are differences in the cases and the village has passed legislation which complies with all federal and state laws.”
Campanelli says almost 10 others have contacted him about their ability to join the class action lawsuit. He tells News 12 there could be over 300 people impacted since Long Beach passed the law in 2021.


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