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Louisville Metro to pay $1.5 million to settle lawsuit over excessive tow lot fees

Louisville's impound lot currently holds 1,000 vehicles more than what it's designed for, according to officials.
Roberto Roldan
Louisville Metro's impound lot is located on Frankfort Avenue.

Louisville Metro Government has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it overcharged people who had their vehicles towed and stored at the city’s impound lot.

The settlement includes $650,000 to compensate people who paid excessive fees between 2008 and 2021. Anyone who is eligible for compensation will be notified, according to court documents.

Attorneys representing vehicle owners argued Metro Government and the Louisville Metro Police Department charged more money for removing cars off city streets than local law allowed. Under city ordinance, police could charge $10 for towing, a $10 storage fee during the first week and $5 for each additional day beyond that. But the attorneys claimed daily storage fees were raised to $11 in 2008, then $13 by 2018.

One plaintiff, Tyrome Lott, said he paid nearly $700 to get his vehicle out of the Metro Impound Lot on Frankfort Avenue after it had been there for 44 days. Lott’s vehicle was towed because it was not registered or insured, and he said he needed time to save up enough money to fix those issues.

Impound lot operators can auction off vehicles that owners haven’t paid to get back within 45 days.

The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, which represented Louisville Metro, argued that city officials believed they were working within the law when they raised the fees to cover increased costs. In court documents, they said the actions of top officials within LMPD and Public Works amounted to “nothing more than negligent behavior” for which they couldn’t be sued.

A spokesperson for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the ongoing litigation. Attorneys representing vehicle owners did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings approved the $1.5 million settlement deal in March. Roughly $850,000 will go toward attorney costs and other fees, according to court records.

Anyone who is eligible to collect some of the settlement funds and wants to object to the agreement can attend a fairness hearing on July 19.

A recent investigation by TV news station WDRB found Louisville Metro has spent more than $38 million since 2017 to settle dozens of lawsuits, much more than neighboring states and other large cities spent in the same timeframe. The payouts led the city’s excess insurance carrier, General Star, to drop it in July 2021.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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