Car Towed in Tel Aviv? You May Be Eligible for a Refund

Cars drive on a highway as a train enters a station in Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Corinna Kern)

If your car was towed in Tel Aviv between August 17, 2004 and October 17, 2006, you could be eligible for a refund of about NIS 150. All you have to do is apply for the refund, present the documentation attesting to the towing, and wait until the city pays out.

The decision to refund the towing fees applies to several thousand drivers, the result of a deal in a class-action lawsuit brought by a Tel Aviv resident, who claimed that the city had illegally benefited from the towing fee – essentially forcing those whose cars were towed to pay a fine twice. Besides an NIS 350 fine for illegal parking, the resident had to pay an additional NIS 250 in fees to the towing company – NIS 83 of which was paid to the city, constituting the second payment for the same fine. The incident occurred in 2000, and the residents sued the city in 2001, with the suit certified with class-action status in 2007.

Now, nearly two decades after the initial incident and lawsuit, the residents and the city have arrived at an out-of-court settlement. Under the deal, the city will set aside NIS 29,000, 100 for refunds to the drivers who are covered under the class-action suit. The original litigant will get a settlement of NIS 870,000. His attorney will be paid NIS 4,350,000 out of city coffers as his fee. The deal still has to be approved by a court.

The city agreed to the settlement, but was not happy about it. In its statement to the court, the city said that the money would be going into the pockets of individuals “who disdained the law, and now seek to get rich off the public.” The settlement, it said, would harm the city’s budget for the year, and the costs would have to be passed on to residents, in the form of new taxes or other fees.