On October 4, 2016, plaintiffs Dominick Owens, Rachael Bell, and Mark Zych (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed a class action complaint against the City of Philadelphia in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, in Owens, et al. v. City of Philadelphia, No. 161000388. The complaint alleges that the Philadelphia Police Department (“PPD”) has been issuing speeding tickets on highways such as I-95, I-76, and I-676, knowing that it lacked the authority to do so, since at least July of 2012. Specifically, under the Vehicle Code, local police such as the PPD are prohibited from issuing speeding citations on highways such as I-95 without a speed enforcement agreement (“SEA”) with the Pennsylvania State Police (“State Police”). The complaint further alleges that on July 17, 2012, then-police commissioner Charles Ramsey issued a memorandum notifying all PPD personnel that the State Police had decided not to enter into a new SEA with the PPD covering I-95, I-76, and I-676; and as such, the PPD was prohibited from issuing speeding citations on those highways within the City of Philadelphia. Plaintiffs allege that, despite the July 17, 2012 memo (that is, despite knowing it lacked authority), the PPD has continued to issue speeding citations on I-95, I-76, and I-676 to this date, without ever having entered into a new SEA with the State Police – i.e., the PPD has been operating under a de facto policy of illegally stopping and citing motorists on I-95, I-76, and I-676. Plaintiffs allege that, based on the PPD’s knowingly false representation that it had authority to issue speeding citations on I-95, I-76, and I-676, Plaintiffs paid fines, attorneys’ fees, court costs, and increased car insurance rates associated with speeding citations they received from the PPD, and have therefore been damaged. Plaintiffs also allege that they were improperly detained in violation of their constitutional rights. The complaint contains counts against the City of Philadelphia for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs are represented by the law firm Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt LLC.
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