Driver fought back against parking 'boot' and won

November 19, 2010 4:59:24 PM PST
For those who park downtown, there is probably nothing more frightening than seeing a big yellow 'boot' strapped around your tire. The devices are meant to punish those who don't pay their parking tickets or who park illegally, but that's not always the case. The guy whose vehicle was booted received a big check as a result of a settlement from this case. He wouldn't tell us how much but he says it was clearly worth fighting the boot that he says was put on his vehicle illegally.

One day last October David Jetelina parked his vehicle in a lot near Dallas and Austin Street for the day. He came back at 6:30 that evening and found a boot on it.

Jetelina said, "A man shows up and it's $120 to release the boot."

He'd paid the four dollar daily rate and placed a receipt on his vehicle before leaving so he didn't understand why he'd been booted.

"It's a deceptive act on their part, deceptive signage. That's how they make their money," Jetelina said.

He says the parking company argued that he was supposed to come out after 6pm and pay more money. He fought that in court and won, with a judge ruling otherwise.

Attorney Rich Robins said, "They've been found in violation of the Texas parking rights and to violate those laws nowadays is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail time. If that's not crooked, I don't know what is."

Robins specializes in these types of cases. He says he has dozens of clients currently fighting booting fees claiming they too were illegally booted in parking lots across downtown Houston. He says the fees some are charging for boot removal can be likened to 'ransom.'

"It kind of reminds me of those kidnapping schemes down in Mexico," Robins said. "'You want your son back? Pay us.'"

Not only did Robins and Jetelina sue and win but they've also filed a complaint with the Texas Attorney General's office based on this "illegal booting." Jetelina hopes others will see his legal victory and use it as motivation to launch their own legal battle if they feel they too were booted when they shouldn't have been.

Jetelina said, "Not everybody has the time or the means to defend themselves against this type of action."

Neither Laz Parking, Boot Man Incorporated nor Premier Parking would comment on this incident, despite our repeated attempts to get their sides of the story.


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