Everett was homeless and living in his van when a cop showed up and demanded to see his registration. Everett had kept his van’s registration current, and showed his official notice of registration to the cop, who claimed that it could be a forgery and proceeded to ticket the van. A week later, the same cop returned and, still claiming that Everett did not have registration, towed the van – seizing everything inside that Everett owned.

Everett went to the police department’s towing office to contest the tow, and they illegaly refused to recognize his notice of registration or call the DMV to verify his registration. Instead, they claimed that their computer system identified his car as unregistered and refused to release his van and all his property to him.

Everett became very depressed and started sleeping in parks, turning to alcohol for solace. One day, while sleeping in a park, he witnessed a gang shoot-out in the middle of the night. After the incident, a dectective approached Everett to take a statement, and told Everett to call him if he ever needed anything. Well, Everett did call him about the van that had been illegally seized some months back – and the detective actually called the DMV, verified that Everett had current registation, and filled out a vehicle release form.

But when Everett went to the vehicle lot to get his vehicle, he was told that the vehicle had been sold at public auction and all his property had been destroyed by the city. Worse still, the towing company sent him a bill ordering him to pay for over $3,000 worth of towing fees.

Everett then filed a claim against the city, which was summarily rejected. He approached five different lawyers and was declined representation. He went to every legal aid non-profit he could find and was turned down for help at all of them.

Finally, Everett came to us for help. We immediately filed a lawsuit on Everett’s behalf in small claims court, wrote a court brief for the judge, prepared exhibits, and helped Everett understand what to say in court. When the city arrived in court to defend the lawsuit, all the city’s agent said was “Your honor, I have no idea what is going on in this case – I was just told to deny the claim.”

We won in small claims court. We then began working with Supervisor Malia’s office to get the city to pay all the towing fees. After several more months of advocacy and threatened lawsuits, the city finally agreed to pay all towing fees.

Client’s name and/or photo was changed at his request to protect his identity.


Posted on

May 5, 2015