Monday, September 12, 2016
Ind. Gov't. - More on: Indiana BMV vs Cohen & Malad?
Updating this ILB post from Friday, Niki Kelly of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported this weekend, headed "Refunds by BMV are now available: Each side still in fight over fees, payouts" [ILB emphasis]:
INDIANAPOLIS – About 5 million Hoosiers were overcharged by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and an additional $28.75 million in refunds or credits are now available.
But attorneys for the BMV and the class-action lawsuit are still wrangling over legal fees and throwing harsh criticism each other’s way.
“Customers who were overcharged will find credits on their accounts that can be applied to their next transaction, or they can request a check from the BMV,” Commissioner Kent Abernathy said in a news release. “We are currently determining the most efficient ways to contact customers about their refunds, including email notification, postcards, and online notification through BMV’s website.”
BMV officials chastised Irwin Levin, a lawyer for a class-action lawsuit against the BMV on overcharges, for filing paperwork Friday to hold a third of the refunds in escrow.
“It is stunning and inappropriate for Mr. Levin, or any lawyer, while claiming to represent Hoosiers’ best interests, to directly seek to take money out of Hoosiers’ pockets,” said BMV General Counsel Adam Krupp.
Irwin was lead counsel in a case against the BMV for overcharging millions of Indiana citizens for certain driver’s licenses which settled for $30 million. He is class counsel in a subsequent case against the BMV involving overcharges not covered by the initial case.
He said he is simply following the law regarding class-action suits, which requires lawyer fees and expenses be taken out of the same pot of money going to the members of the class. He estimates about $1 million in costs.
The trial in the case isn’t until Sept. 28, and Levin said the BMV is issuing refunds and credits early as gamesmanship.
“As every Hoosier knows by now, with the BMV truth is a random event, and this press release is no different,” Levin said. “They went around the court’s authority and tried to create a payment system that is not transparent. We have not asked BMV to stop paying people. We’ve asked them to follow the law.
“Everyone knows not a penny would have been paid by the BMV without us fighting them in lawsuits.”
It’s the latest chapter in overcharges that have been going on for years and were brought to light by legal action. * * *
Irwin explained that papers filed Friday were to separate a third of the money until the case is resolved. [Note: The ILB as yet has been unable to obtain these documents.]
Then, if later a judge determines reasonable lawyer fees and costs it would be paid out of that amount. If money remains from the third that was put aside it would then go back to Hoosiers.
And he said that the BMV has squandered $2 million in taxpayer funds fighting the suits.