In 2012, a Chicago man named Brandon Preveau bought a used car for $600 and registered it in his ex-girlfriend’s name, Jennifer Fitzgerald. He then parked the car at O’Hare International Airport and walked away, for THREE YEARS.
Over the next two years, the car racked up 678 parking tickets, totaling $105,761.80. Fitzgerald, who was unemployed and a single mother, was shocked when she received the first batch of tickets. She tried to explain the situation to the city, but they refused to drop the fines.
Fitzgerald had no choice but to sue the city. She argued that she was not responsible for the tickets because she did not own the car and did not know it was parked at the airport. The city argued that Fitzgerald was responsible for the tickets because the car was registered in her name.
The case went to trial, and the judge ultimately urged both sides to settle. The city agreed to reduce Fitzgerald’s fine to $4,470. Fitzgerald’s ex-boyfriend, Preveau, agreed to pay a $1,600 down payment, and Fitzgerald agreed to pay the rest of the fine in monthly installments.
Fitzgerald’s driver’s license was suspended until she paid off the fine. She was finally able to get her license back in 2015, after she paid off the fine in full.
The parking ticket saga was a major financial and emotional burden for Fitzgerald. She said that she was “relieved” that the case was finally over, but she was also “angry” at her ex-boyfriend for putting her in this situation.
In addition to the financial and emotional burden, Fitzgerald’s case also had a practical impact on her life. Without a driver’s license, she was unable to get to work or take her children to school. She also had difficulty finding affordable housing because many landlords require tenants to have a driver’s license.
Fitzgerald’s story is a cautionary tale about the importance of being careful who you trust. It is also a reminder that even the most seemingly innocent pranks can have serious consequences