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Want a refund from Kansas City when police wrongly tow your car? Good luck, suit says

Dyanna Black of Kansas City is suing Kansas City police and the city of Kansas City after the city refused to refund the $265 she paid to get her car out of the city tow lot even though a judge ruled that her car had been wrongfully towed.
Dyanna Black of Kansas City is suing Kansas City police and the city of Kansas City after the city refused to refund the $265 she paid to get her car out of the city tow lot even though a judge ruled that her car had been wrongfully towed. ACLU, courtesy of Dyanna Black

All Dyanna Black wanted was a refund of the $265 she should never have paid after her car was improperly towed.

But despite winning her case in Kansas City Municipal Court, the city told her they would not provide a refund.

So on Tuesday, she filed a federal lawsuit alleging that her civil rights were violated by the city's lack of a policy or procedure to refund her when her car should have never been towed in the first place.

"What happens when law enforcement gets it wrong? Kansas City should have a system for reimbursement in place and be accountable to the people who live here,” Black said in a written statement released by the ACLU, which is representing her. “Many people struggle to scrape together the money they need to get their car out of impound so they can get to work or pick up their children, or just do what they need to live.”

Black's car was parked near 16th Street and Wyandotte streets when it was towed on Feb. 2, 2016, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

She at first thought her car had been stolen, but learned that it had actually been towed and impounded after Kansas City police ticketed it for illegal parking.

Black had to "scramble" to get a ride to the tow lot and had to pay $265 to get her vehicle, according to her suit.

In May 2016, she spent six hours at Kansas City Municipal Court before a judge ruled in her favor and dismissed the ticket.

But the judge told Black that she had no power to order a refund.

"Neither the Kansas City Police Department nor the city of Kansas City has any process by which a person who must pay money to retrieve their vehicle after it has been improperly towed and or impounded — by order of the Kansas City Police Department — can seek reimbursement," according to the suit.

The suit names the city and members of the board of police commissioners as defendants.

Nathan Garrett, police board president, said they are reviewing the lawsuit but declined to comment.

A city spokesman said it would not be appropriate to comment until city legal staff have seen and reviewed the suit.

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