What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Minneapolis may inform hundreds of right to auction profits

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: October 26, 2012 - 6:00 PM

To avoid a class action lawsuit over the sale of impounded cars, the city will likely inform hundreds of former car owners by mail that they have a check waiting at City Hall.

The proposed settlement with a man named Garr White comes nearly a year after the Star Tribune discovered the city was not informing people they can claim auction profits from impounded cars that exceed the public cost to tow and store the vehicle.

If the settlement is approved by the City Council, the city will mail notices to every resident -- dating back to September 2009 -- whose car was sold at auction for more than the public expenses. In 2011, that was about 428 vehicles, according to the Star Tribune's story from November of that year.

The city would also post a notice in the Star Tribune and the city's website that anyone whose car made a public profit since 2006 has the right to claim the money.

Profits from auctioned cars generated about $149,400 for the city in 2011, all of which could have been claimed by car owners had they been aware of their rights.

The city's director of traffic and parking services initially felt the notification efforts were sufficient, despite no mention of the profit clause on letters sent to car owners. He later said they would review the policy.

The city then decided to start informing people of their rights to claim profits. "The information given out wasn't clear enough," Council Member Sandy Colvin Roy said at the time.

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