BMV Intentionally Overcharged, Lawyer Says After Fresh Settlement
Dave Stafford for www.theindianalwyer.com
The Indiana Bureau of Motor vehicles intentionally overcharged some 5.5 million Hoosiers for years, even after its misconduct was pointed out, said an attorney whose firm announced the second settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the agency.
Most Hoosier motorists will receive credits on future BMV transactions under the $62 million settlement, but some refunds for overcharges dating back a decade or more will require people to submit a claim online. Refunds are expected to range from about $1 to $50.
Cohen & Malad P.C. announced Thursday the BMV agreed to refund overcharges on more than 100 categories of fees dating to 2002. Managing partner Irwin Levin said the settlement concludes litigation against the bureau that in total returned more than $92 million in overcharges to BMV customers.
“We’re extremely proud of the results of this case,” Levin said. “It demonstrates what Hoosiers can do through the courts to hold the state accountable when government misconduct is discovered.”
The agreement calls for the BMV to pay an additional $7 million in attorney fees to Cohen & Malad. The law firm received about $6.3 million for the previous settlement.
Together with previous settlements and refunds, the BMV has admitted to charging drivers more than $115 million in higher-than-allowed taxes and fees over the past 15 years.
Attorney Carl Hayes represented the BMV in the case. He said the agency is pleased to have resolved the issue.
The firm first sued BMV in 2013, and the agency settled that case the same year. But the firm said after the current suit was filed, BMV insisted that there were no further overcharges and that credits to anyone entitled to them had been paid.
Levin said the firm proved during the second case continuing overcharges of numerous registration, vehicle licensing and identification card fees. “At various points, BMV knew they were overcharging and intentionally decided not to tell anyone or to refund the money,” he said.
In most cases, BMV will provide a credit to a customer’s accounts for any transaction overcharges that occurred from 2006-2014, Levin said. Customers who are out of state, no longer conduct business with the BMV, or would prefer to be sent a refund check may request a refund check on the BMV website here.
The settlement announced Thursday also includes overcharges for fees paid between 2002-July 2006. Because BMV no longer has those records, people who may have been overcharged must fill out a claim form on the BMV’s website.
“It’s meant to be user-friendly, and we think it is,” Levin said.