SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

June 4, 2010

Woman sues over $300 ticket for parking in handicapped spot

DANVERS — A Lynnfield woman who was slapped with a $300 ticket for parking her Mercedes in a handicapped space outside BJ's Wholesale Club last March is taking the town of Danvers to court.

Janice Eberle, 56, filed a complaint earlier this week in Salem Superior Court appealing a decision by the town's parking clerk, who refused to dismiss the ticket issued to her on March 30.

In her complaint, Eberle called her use of a handicapped spot "unavoidable," then cited "physical disability and weather conditions."

It was raining that day.

But Eberle does not have a handicap parking placard or plate, and bad weather is not a legal excuse for using a designated handicapped spot.

"I hear 'em all," said the town's parking clerk, Stephen Delaney, when asked if Eberle's explanation was unusual.

In his denial letter, Delaney was polite, saying that he understood her predicament (she was dashing back into the store to pick up something she had forgotten), but firm: he could not dismiss the ticket, given that she had admitted to parking in the handicapped spot.

Now Eberle is apparently hoping that a judge will overrule Delaney and dismiss the ticket.

Eberle, whose husband is an attorney, filed the court complaint on her own, representing herself.

(Her husband's law license was recently suspended for four months over two shoplifting cases, according to an order from the Supreme Judicial Court in December).

Normally, filing such a complaint costs $275, plus an additional charge for sending notice to the opposing party. According to the case docket, Eberle filed a sealed affidavit saying she was unable to afford the filing fees, which were then waived by a judge.

Eberle did not return calls for comment.

Parking in a handicapped spot is by far the most expensive type of parking violation in Danvers.

The next-highest violation, parking at a hydrant, warrants a $25 ticket. Had Eberle parked in the fire lane in front of the store, the ticket would have been $15.

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