A woman has filed a lawsuit against the against the Ohio Department of Public Safety after claiming that her 2002 Saturn SC2 was unlawfully seized and is requesting $500 billion in damages, plus another $20 million in punitive damages.
Michelle R. Mathis was injured in a traffic accident on January 12th that required her to be transported to Ohio State University Medical Hospital. While recovering, Mathis was able to receive regular mail at the hospital about her accident, but never received any notification about the status of her car.
When released from the hospital on February 7th, Mathis went to the local impound lot in person and claims that she received the run around because the lot sold her car before she could pick it up.
In a hand written notice, Mathis insisted that the lack of notice represented a violation of her due process rights, saying:
“Plaintiff has and continues to have issues with the impound unit and thus would like to permanently restrain and grant an injunction on defendants and its officers, agents, servants, employees and attorneys from any further action resulting to any action with plaintiff.”
In response to her official lawsuit requesting the $500 billion in damages, US Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Preston Deavers responded by saying, “In this case, the undersigned finds that plaintiff fails to state a facially plausible federal claim,” adding that,
“Plaintiff first attempts to a bring claim under the Fourth Amendment for unlawful seizure. From the facts plaintiff pleads, however, it appears that the seizure of her vehicle was proper. As both the Supreme Court and United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit have held ‘[t]he authority of police to seize and remove from the streets vehicles impeding traffic or threatening public safety and convenience is beyond challenge.'”
The Judge then dismisses the plaintiff’s claim that the vehicle is the subject of an improper seizure.
“Furthermore, plaintiff’s claims do not appear to challenge the actual seizure of her vehicle, but instead focus on her inability to regain possession of her vehicle. Plaintiff’s interest in regaining her vehicle, however, is outside the scope of the Fourth Amendment…. Plaintiff also fails to state a viable claim under the Equal Protection Clause.”
“The mere fact that plaintiff had poor experiences with the towing of a vehicle she previously owned is not enough for the court to reasonably conclude that the city of Columbus has adopted an implicit custom or policy that encourages its employees to violate plaintiff’s federal rights,” Deavers wrote. “Accordingly, plaintiff fails to satisfy the requisite pleading standards for municipal liability.”
I’m not sure if Mathis was aware that asking for this amount of money would make her over five times richer than the richest person in the world, but here’s to hoping she gets her 2002 Saturn back.