Anthony Sevy is not the first person to try to pay a parking ticket in protest with coins. But what he says happened to him in a Royal Oak, Mich., courthouse in February was unusual enough for him to file a federal lawsuit.
Sevy, a 33-year-old real estate broker, went to Royal Oak’s 44th District Court on Feb. 13 to pay a $10 parking ticket. When he was told he had to pay a $1.75 surcharge to use his credit card, he left and came back with pennies.
The lawsuit, filed Nov. 22 in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan, says the clerk told him coin payments were accepted as long as they were rolled, the Detroit News reports.
“He wasn’t happy about it so, in symbolic protest, he brought back penny rolls to pay for his ticket.” his lawyer, Jonathan Marko, told Fox 2 in Detroit. “The clerk wasn’t too happy about that, they refused to allow him to pay with penny rolls.”
Surveillance video shows Sevy going through a security check with the pennies, then standing at the counter exchanging words with one of two guards, who reportedly asked him to leave.
Marko told the News there was a verbal exchange between Sevy, the court clerk and 44th District Court Officers Philip Barach and Harold Marshall. The officers are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The video shows one of the guards grabbing Sevy in the vestibule as he tried to leave the building. Part of the scuffle is obscured.
“As he was leaving the court house with his back to the officer, the court officer began to choke him out, grabbing him, brought him to the ground. Mr. Sevy passed out and defecated himself,” Marko said.
“I don’t think that in everyday course of business, we poop our pants or go around defecating ourselves.”
Sevy was arrested and taken to a holding cell for more than 24 hours, Marko told the News.
He said it’s unclear exactly what was said before the alleged assault but that a verbal exchange did not give the security guard the right to “brutalize” Sevy.
City attorney David Gillam would not give Fox 2 a comment on the case, which was investigated by the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, because the city hadn’t been served yet.
Gary Dodge, an administrator for the 44th District Court, also declined to comment to the News.
Charged with assaulting an officer and disturbing the peace, Sevy pleaded no contest to the latter charge in a plea agreement to get the more serious felony assault charge dropped, according to Fox 2.
The lawsuit does not seek a specific monetary award. It says Sevy suffered head trauma, mental anguish and embarrassment, and incurred medical bills because of the incident.
It says Sevy wants “an amount that is just and fair and award costs, interest and attorney fees as well as punitive, exemplary or hedonic damages.”