« Ind. Courts - State ordered by 7th Circuit to respond by noon (CDT) tomorrow to emergency stay motion | Main | Ind. Law - Most 2014 laws now in effect, but not online [Updated] »

Monday, June 30, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Judge may consider additional refunds in BMV overcharging case"

Troy Kehoe reports this evening for WISHTV8:

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A Marion County Judge could decide as early as next month whether millions of Hoosier drivers are entitled to additional refunds from Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Attorneys argued several new requests concerning allegations of fee overcharging in court on Monday.

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.

The following month, the BMV announced that a commissioned review by an outside law firm had also identified other fees being charged at rates higher than allowed by state law. A separate lawsuit filed by Indianapolis-based law firm Cohen and Malad alleges the fees include everything from vehicle registrations to motorcycle endorsements, personalized license plate fees and chauffeurs licenses.

A ruling, issued in February in Marion Superior Court by Judge James Osborn, denied a request from the BMV to dismiss the new lawsuit, which claims the agency systematically overcharged drivers for a wide variety of fees. The case has since been transferred to a new judge. * * *

[T]he lawsuit claims the issue hasn’t been fully resolved. It seeks unspecified damages, plus interest, for all fees overcharged by the BMV, estimated to be between $30 million and $40 million.

The lawsuit also asks the court to allow refunds on overcharges that occurred beyond the state’s six year statute of limitations window.

Court documents obtained by I-Team 8 also contain allegations that the BMV was aware as early as 2010 that some of its fees exceeded the amounts allowed under state law, but that it continued overcharging Hoosier drivers for at least two years in order to avoid budget troubles.

The allegations, made by former BMV Deputy Director Matthew Foley as part of a deposition, contradict statements made by former BMV Commissioner Scott Waddell. Waddell testified in his deposition that the BMV had “no inkling of the overcharges, in any manner, way, shape or form, prior to the filing” of the first lawsuit, according to court documents.

The new lawsuit claims a “limited privilege log” produced as evidence by the BMV in the first lawsuit “identifies documents dating back to 2007 relating to [overcharging], as well as Waddell’s backtracking testimony on the afternoon of his deposition that at least one potential overcharge was brought to his attention in 2009 or 2010,” according to court filings.

The BMV, represented by the Indiana Attorney General’s office, filed a motion in April asking a judge to immediately rule in its favor, claiming the lead plaintiff in the class-action case did not actually pay any of the alleged overcharges, and that she failed to file a proper tort claim notice. Attorneys for the plaintiff asked the judge last week for additional time to respond to the state’s request.

Judge John Hanley took that request under advisement Monday. If that request is denied, his ruling could be issued at any time.

ILB: For background, see ILB entries including these from July 13, 2013, September 30, 2013, and November 22, 2013.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 30, 2014 07:14 PM
Posted to Indiana Government