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Friday, February 21, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Judge green lights 2nd BMV overcharging lawsuit "

Troy Kehoe had a good story last evening at WISHTV8. It begins:

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana drivers who were overcharged by millions of dollars in fees could see additional refunds after a Marion County judge ruled that a second lawsuit against the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles can move forward.

The ruling, issued Wednesday in Marion Superior Court by Judge James Osborn, denies a request from the BMV to dismiss the lawsuit, and requires the agency to respond to claims it systematically overcharged drivers for a wide variety of fees. The ruling also requires the BMV to produce evidence sought by public records requests.

Last August, millions of Hoosier drivers were issued small refunds as part of a $30 million settlement where the BMV admitted it had overcharged drivers under the age of 75 who obtained or renewed a driver’s license between 2007 and 2013. The overcharges averaged around $3.50, according to court documents.

Then, in September, the BMV announced a commissioned review by an outside law firm had also identified other fees being charged at rates higher than allowed by state law. The agency declined to identify which fees those were, but a lawsuit filed by Indianapolis-based law firm Cohen and Malad alleges they include everything from vehicle registrations to motorcycle endorsements to chauffeurs licenses.

Last fall, the BMV began lowering those fees and issuing credits. Drivers who wished to obtain a refund check for the amount of their overcharges were asked to fill out an online form. Checks were mailed.

But, Irwin Levin, who filed the lawsuit, says the issue hasn’t been fully resolved.

“The BMV was essentially saying ‘just trust us’ to Hoosiers,” Levin, of Indianapolis-based Cohen and Malad, LLP, told 24-Hour News 8 by phone Thursday. “Some of the charges were OK, but many weren’t. We need to hold them accountable for those.”

Levin’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, plus interest, for all fees overcharged by the BMV.

“We don’t know how much money that is, but I would say it’s certainly well into the 8-figure realm,” Levin said. “And, this occurred both before and after 2007.”

WISH's story includes a link to the complaint. The ILB has taken the complaint, with attachments, totaling 54 pp., and downloaded and OCRed it, because it includes a trove of information. Access it here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 21, 2014 10:41 AM
Posted to Indiana Government