Palatine man sues village for parking ticket

Updated 3/3/2011 5:37 PM

Jason Senne doesn't dispute that he illegally parked overnight in Palatine, but the contents of the citation he received are an entirely different story.

The Palatine man is suing the village for listing personal information on his Aug. 20 ticket - visible for five hours on his parked Acura in the area of Hawk Street and Heron Drive - including his name, address, date of birth, driver's license number, sex, height and weight.


Attorney Martin Murphy on Aug. 27 filed a lawsuit in federal court against the village of Palatine, claiming the ticket violated the Driver Privacy Protection Act.

In the complaint he provides history of the legislation, which was passed in 1993 due in part to several highly publicized crimes in which offenders used publicly available motor vehicle records to identify and stalk their victims. The most notorious example was the 1989 murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in California.

By disclosing personal information on a citation that's left on an unattended vehicle, "Palatine is not only failing to prevent the commission of a crime, it is facilitating the potential for crime by making the personal information of the vehicle's registered owner available to anyone who would desire the information," the suit states.

Palatine police Cmdr. Craig Lesselyoung said the department won't comment on the lawsuit.

Of 10 Northwest suburban police departments surveyed, Palatine is the only agency to include information beyond the registered vehicle owner's name and address. For instance, Arlington Heights lists only the vehicle's make, model, color, license plate and expiration date on its tickets, Police Cmdr. Ken Galinski said.

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Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Inverness and Mount Prospect go a step further and may also include the registered owner's name and address if officers choose.

The act prohibits disclosure of personal information without the express consent of the person, aside from exceptions that don't apply to the Palatine-issued citation, the suit states.

Murphy said he won't comment on the case until later this week when a judge is expected to rule on his motion that Palatine police immediately begin redacting personal information from tickets.

The suit seeks class-action status that could potentially include as plaintiffs anyone issued a parking ticket in Palatine during the last four years. It states Palatine gives out more than 8,000 parking citations annually, based on budgeted parking meter violation revenue.

Murphy is seeking $2,500 - an amount set under the Driver Privacy Protection Act - for each instance in which Palatine "knowingly obtained, disclosed or used personal information from a motor vehicle record in any manner not permitted under the DPPA."