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Man sues city hall for car and wins
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) -- A South Cumminsville man took on City Hall and won.
Gilbert Parker represented himself during the nearly five-year long court battle. The city impounded his 2007 Chrysler 300 in 2009 when he was charged with OVI. The city later sold the car at an auction. Parker sued to get his car back. Thursday morning he received a check for $15,500.
"Right now I'm elated. I'm glad that this is finally resolved and it's over with," Parker said after receiving the check.
Parker maintains he was not guilty of the OVI. He said he was walking out of a convenience store when police told him they'd watched him drive under the influence. Parker maintains he was innocent - and a woman was actually driving the car. His car was impounded by the city and later sold.
"When this first started, I went to city hall to complain. And there was a gentleman there at city hall and his remark to me was 'it's just a car.' But what he didn't understand was that car was my livelihood. That's how I made my income. That's what made it personal," Parker said during an interview with Lincoln Ware on 1230 AM The Buzz.
Parker used the car to sell clothes at flea markets and other venues. He said he started a company and even had a couple of employees. Once he lost the car his business failed.
Parker sued the city of Cincinnati. But city attorneys claimed they had a right to sell the vehicle because Parker failed to retrieve it from the impound lot when he was told to do so. But, Parker said he never received that notification. An appeals court agreed last summer. The city offered to settle the case for $500. But, Parker felt that wasn't enough.
He kept fighting.
The city eventually offered $8,000. But, Parker felt the city should pay the blue book value of the car. Last month, Hamilton Co. Judge Norbert Nadel agreed and ordered the city to pay $15,500.
Parker has no formal legal training. He studied law out of necessity while serving two prison terms for attempted burglary in New York in 1991 and 2000. He felt he had to become familiar with the law because the public defenders who represented him were often underpaid and overworked.
"You can't put all faith in to a lawyer because he's another human being. He can make mistakes or he might not care," Parker said.
It's not often you hear about someone beating city hall. But Parker said it's really not that unusual for him. He claims to have taken on the city of New York in the past.
"Me and New York has settled four cases already and I was pro se as my own attorney," Parker said.
Despite Judge Nadel's ruling the city maintains it had the right to sell the vehicle. In a prepared statement acting city solicitor Terrence Nestor wrote:
"Mr. Parker was convicted of an OVI after failing to appear at court on three separate occasions. The City of Cincinnati sold his car after he failed to pick it up despite notice from the City that it was available for pick up. It is unfortunate that the Court system has rewarded Mr. Parker's actions and failure to secure his property. The City chose to resolve the case to mitigate the continuing waste of judicial and taxpayer resources consumed by this case. As in all cases, the City intends to abide by the Court's order."
Now that Parker has been compensated for his car he plans to use most of the money to start his business again. He will buy a used "beater" car rather than something new and shiny.
When asked why he won't pursue a career in law he said, "That's stressful. That's stressful. That's more stressful than selling clothes."
Parker would like to start a community research group in which he could teach people how to read law books and help themselves.
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