The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to hear a proposed class-action lawsuit over Palatine's practice of printing personal information on parking tickets.
Though the high court's decision sends the case back to the district court to proceed, several municipalities across the country already have taken the pre-emptive step of redacting information that previously appeared in public view.
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The case dates back to August 2010, when motorist Jason Senne sued the village after receiving a $20 parking ticket for illegally parking overnight in the area of Hawk Street and Heron Drive. It had been on his windshield for about five hours.
According to his complaint, Palatine's citations include drivers' names, addresses, dates of birth, heights, weights, sexes, driver's license numbers, vehicle identification numbers, years, makes, models, colors and tag numbers. Senne's lawsuit claims the village's practice violates the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act.
In an earlier decision, the district court granted Palatine's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The dismissal was affirmed by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011. In August 2012, however, the entire appellate court in a further review voted 7-to-4 to reinstitute the suit. The majority raised concerns over safety.
"There are very real safety and security concerns at stake here," Judge Kenneth Ripple wrote. "For example, an individual seeking to stalk or rape can go down a street where overnight parking is banned and collect the home address and personal information of women whose vehicles have been tagged."
Both village attorney Patrick Brankin and Senne's attorney Martin Murphy declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
Due to the four-year statute of limitations for private lawsuits, Palatine in theory could face $80 million in penalties since every privacy violation carries a $2,500 fine. On July 1, the village filed a response asking the court to deny Senne's motion for class-action status.
After Senne's lawsuit was filed, Palatine suspended its practice of printing personal information on the copy of the ticket that motorists receive.