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Indiana BMV admits in class-action case to 112 overcharges

October 12, 2015

Indiana's Bureau of Motor Vehicles has admitted to more than 100 weight-class overcharges in court documents stemming from a class-action lawsuit alleging that the agency overcharged motorists by tens of millions of dollars.

The documents, filed in September in Marion Superior Court, show the BMV has admitted to 112 separate overcharges involving fees charged for dozens of vehicle weight classes. Attorney Irwin Levin, who sued the BMV and later won class-action status for the suit, said Monday the agency needs to refund the estimated $40 million to $50 million.

A legislative hearing held last week focused on an independent audit that concluded the agency might have overcharged motorists more than the $60 million that it has previously disclosed since 2013. Levin said BMV officials never mentioned the 112 overcharges at the hearing.

BMV officials who promised significant reforms were underway need to be up front with Indiana residents about those other overcharges that are part of the lawsuit, Levin said.

"Hoosiers aren't dumb. You can't say 'We're being transformative because we're not going to cheat you anymore.' You have to say, 'Hey, we overcharged, here's your money back and we're not going to do that anymore,'" Levin said.

BMV attorney Carl Hayes said the 112 overcharges involve dozens of weight classes of semitrailers and trucks, and that those numerous weight classes "inflate those numbers."

The two sides will try to resolve their differences during an Oct. 19 court-ordered mediation session that Hayes said will be the fourth mediation in that case. He suggested that Levin and the plaintiffs' other attorney are focused on "getting as much as they can."

"From our perspective, we're looking to see if there's something that can be done to resolve the case in a way that's positive for taxpayers. And frankly, money that's paid to the plaintiffs' counsel, that's not necessarily good for taxpayers," Hayes said.

In September 2014, the BMV said it had overcharged motorists nearly $29 million in excise taxes. In 2013, it settled a class-action lawsuit that claimed it overcharged customers by $30 million.

Irwin's firm received $6.3 million, or 21 percent, of the money awarded in the 2013 suit.

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