Daily Court Reporter - News Former Ohio attorney general Dann goes after BMV for bogus $1.50 fees
Former Ohio attorney general Dann goes after BMV for bogus $1.50 fees
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
A Cleveland law firm headed by former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Ohioans who paid for a false laminating fee of $1.50 since late last year when deputy registrars' ceased distributing state license and ID cards.
According to Dann, who resigned in 2008 under threat of impeachment stemming from an admitted extra-marital affair, reports of misconduct in his office and campaign-finance violations, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles has collected $3 million since July 2, 2018, for a lamination fee, despite registrars no longer producing or laminating the cards on site.
He estimated the class size at about two million Ohioans.
Dann cited Common Cause Ohio Executive Director Catherine Turcer who told a local newspaper that the registrars should not have been charging a fee for a service they are no longer providing, calling the behavior unfair.
The founder of the Cleveland-based consumer protection law firm DannLaw said he agrees with Turcer.
"We posted an item on our Facebook page asking anyone who has renewed their license or state ID since last July to contact us," he said. "The response was overwhelming.
"Those who paid the fee were outraged. They want their money back and they want the state to stop ripping people off."
The suit, which was filed last week in the Ohio Court of Claims, asks the court to award anyone who paid the lamination fee $1.50 plus interest.
"While the dollar amount on a per-person basis may be small, there's nothing trivial about the BMV allowing the registrars to pocket $3 million for doing nothing," Dann said. "If everyone shrugs their shoulders and says 'it's only a buck fifty' does that mean it's OK for the state to grab $5 or $10 from its citizens? Where do you draw the line?
"At its core, this case isn't about the $1.50, it's about holding government officials accountable for their actions. That's the best way to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again."
Bay Village attorney and Dann's co-counsel Joe Romano explained that the overcharges stem from changes ordered by federal regulators that the BMV, instead of deputy registrars, begin producing and mailing licenses and IDs to Ohio drivers and residents.
"Apparently, and this is something we hope to learn more about as the case progresses, neither the deputy registrars nor the staff at the BMV noticed that people were still being charged the $1.50 lamination fee even though the registrars weren't laminating a darn thing," Romano said.
After a brief suspension of his law license, Dann was reinstated to practice law in the state of Ohio in 2013.
Date Published: April 19, 2019