Class-action suit against Indiana BMV to go to mediation

A class-action lawsuit that says the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles overcharged customers by millions of dollars is set to go to mediation.

The lawsuit, filed in 2013, alleges the BMV owes drivers possibly as much as $38 million in excessive charges for a number of fees and services. A joint notice of mediation was filed by attorneys for both sides Wednesday, The Indianapolis Star reported.

A trial had been scheduled to start June 1.

"We're always interested in any solution that makes sense for the taxpayers of Indiana," said Indianapolis attorney Carl Hayes, who is representing the BMV in the lawsuit.

Scott Gilchrist, an attorney with Cohen & Malad LLP, the Indianapolis law firm that filed the lawsuit, said he doesn't comment on cases set to go to mediation.

Going to mediation is typically a "healthy sign" for cases, said John L. Krauss, an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. But it doesn't guarantee there will be a settlement.

"It is a sign that the parties would like to sit down and try to craft some possible options and see if any of them would be acceptable to both sides," Krauss said.

Any agreement would have to be approved by the court, Krauss said. In the meantime, the BMV says it is repaying the overcharges through refunds and credits.

In another class-action lawsuit settled in 2013, the state agency said it would give back $30 million that it overcharged for operator's licenses. Cohen & Malad reaped $6.3 million from that lawsuit

The BMV has also said it overcharged drivers another $29 million in excise taxes, as well as another $2 million for a variety of charges. It is repaying overcharges through refunds and credits.

Gov. Mike Pence announced last month a change in leadership for the BMV and that internal auditors would review the agency's fee structure.

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