I Took on the PPA and Won — and It Might Be Worth Millions to Philly Drivers

Coard: My court victory over a “bus zone" ticket could have far-reaching effects.

If you hate the robbers known as the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) and its conspiratorial kangaroo court known as the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (BAA) as much as I do, you’ve got to read and circulate this article — especially since it might earn you and thousands of other victimized drivers millions of dollars in total.

I won a big trial this month against the PPA/BAA in a real court, i.e., the Court of Common Pleas, which is presided over by real judges who had been real lawyers who had attended real law schools (unlike the non-legally trained patronage-infested bureaucratic hacks in the PPA/BAA).

As a result of my major victory, the PPA/BAA might have to refund a whole lot of unlawfully confiscated money to you all. How much? Let’s do the math: Although it’s unclear exactly how many $51 “bus zone” parking tickets the PPA issues each year, let’s reasonably estimate, for example, approximately 100 daily from just Monday through Friday, which equals 500 weekly and 26,000 yearly. And, for the sake of easy computing, let’s apply this to a ten-year period (although it’s certainly much longer). That means the PPA/BAA could owe drivers who were victimized like me a total of more than $12 million!

Here’s how I was victimized. Several months ago, I got a ticket for parking in a bus zone. I knew I wasn’t liable for committing any violation, so I requested a hearing — but was found liable despite having explained the law to the hearing officer. I wasn’t taking no for an answer, so I requested an administrative review — but again was found liable despite having explained the law in even greater detail to the administrative review officer. I then decided to file an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, even though the filing fee of about $200 was four times the cost of the $51 ticket. But it didn’t matter. Even if it had been a $2,000 filing fee, I would have paid it based on principle.

After I submitted the required legal documents and followed the required legal procedures, the case finally came to trial this month in City Hall. I could spend ten pages telling you exactly what happened. But instead I’ll simply reprint the following paragraph, which is a very concise part of what was included in my legal brief:

“As averred by appellant Michael Coard in Coard v. PPA/BAA, Docket Number 02240 March 2016, his vehicle was parked between a standard pole with ‘No Parking- Bus Zone’ signage on it and a standard bus zone demarcation painted on the street as a white box with a white X through it. There was a space between the pole and the box that was approximately ten feet. And although his vehicle was about six feet past the pole, it was clearly about four feet away from the box (as agreed by PPA/BAA).

In other words, his vehicle was not in and was not even touching the area specifically identified by the box. But the PPA/BAA claims that the violation is based on the pole, not the on-street painted demarcation. Contrary to that claim, however, is Philadelphia Traffic Code Chapter 12-901(1) that states, ‘… (N)o operator shall… park a vehicle in… the following place…: (b) in a designated bus stop.’ And 12-102(4) defines a designated ‘Bus Stop as a fixed area in the roadway parallel and adjacent to the curb set aside for the expeditious loading and unloading of passengers….’ Also, 12-1205 indicates that the designation is by ‘appropriate… marking or lines upon the surface of the highway.’

Furthermore, as pointed out in Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition (West Publishing, 1979), the word ‘in’ means ‘inclosed (i.e., enclosed) or surrounded by limits, as in a room.’ Appellant Michael Coard’s vehicle was not enclosed in or surrounded by (or even touching) the demarcation painted on the street. Accordingly, it was not ‘in’ a ‘designated’ bus stop that was specifically ‘in’ a ‘fixed’ area ‘on’ the roadway.”

After the PPA/BAA attorney (who surprisingly was a nice guy) presented his trial argument following mine, the Honorable Linda Carpenter of the Court of Common Pleas — who is respected as an objective legal scholar in both civil and criminal matters — held the case under advisement for a few days while she meticulously researched the law. Afterward, she ruled in my favor by dismissing the ticket and writing in her order, “The decision of PPA/BAA is REVERSED because the Court finds that the PPA/BAA erred as a matter of law.” Erred! Wow! Yeahhhhh!

Before you start celebrating (like I already did), you should be aware that the PPA/BAA filed an appeal this week to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Therefore, the fight’s not over. As soon as the appellate hearing is scheduled, I will notify the public.

But in the meantime, I’ll be holding a press conference outside the PPA building at 913 Filbert Street on December 1st at 12:30 p.m. At that time, I’ll be discussing how I won my case, how you can win your case, and how you can seek your $51 bus zone refund. I’ll also be discussing a 2012 ruling by another respected, objective, and scholarly Common Pleas Court Judge who ordered the PPA/BAA to respect your legal rights in four new and specific ways regarding all types of parking tickets. Unfortunately, though, after four years, the PPA/BAA seems to be violating that order and thereby violating your legal rights. But we’re gonna fight to change all that. And quick.

Spread the word and attend the press conference. For more info before then, email me at MichaelCoard@msn.com.

Michael Coard, Esq., can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD900AM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.

Reprinted with permission from the Philadelphia Tribune.