Lawsuits in both state and federal court were filed Friday against the city of Los Angeles by a man who alleges his car was wrongfully seized and sold as he was recouping from cancer surgery.
The cases were filed in both U.S. District Court and Los Angeles Superior Court by Joseph Morrissey, who alleges that the city violated his constitutional rights against unreasonable seizure and due process as well as federal and state laws that prohibit disability discrimination.
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Morrissey, a longtime Los Angeles resident, alleges he is one of the many harmed by what he says is the city’s practice of citing and towing cars that have not been moved within a 72-hour period.
Morrissey, who regularly parked in front of his home in his residential northeast area neighborhood for more than six years, left his car parked on the street while he was underoing cancer surgery, according to his lawsuits.
After spending over a week in the hospital because of complications from the surgery, he returned home to recover, where he was bedridden and medically unable to drive, his court papers say.
Days after his release from the hospital, Morrissey says he found out he was cited for failing to move his car within 72 hours. Before he could arrange for assistance to move the car, he woke up the next morning to find that his car was towed, according to the suits.
“The city’s practice of towing cars simply because they have been parked in one place for 72 hours discriminates against people like Mr. Morrissey, whose medical conditions restrict their ability to move a car …,” said plaintiff’s attorney Nisha Kashyap.
Morrissey contested the ticket and tow, paid the $68 fine and presented evidence of his hospitalization and medical condition, the suit states. The city acknowledged receipt of his submissions and accepted his payment, but then denied Morrissey his legal right to challenge the ticket, towing and impound fees, according to the suit.
Instead, the city sold his car at a lien sale, the suits state.
“I’ve never been involved in anything like this,” Morrissey said. “I couldn’t afford the towing and storage fees, so I tried to do everything they asked of me while I contested the ticket and tow. They took my money and still sold my car.”