Michigan city pays driver $1,000 to settle tire marking case

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. chalk / tʃɔk / (v.) – to write or draw using a piece of chalk

    A student chalked some bad words on the desk.

  2. constitutional / ˌkɒn stɪˈtu ʃə nl / (adj.) – allowed by the rules or law of a country

    As government authorities, we make sure that the rules we implement are constitutional.

  3. unreasonable / ʌnˈri zə nə bəl / (adj.) – not acceptable

    Working overtime without getting extra pay is unreasonable.

  4. mess with (something) / mɛs wɪθ / (phrasal v.) – to deal with something in a way that’s not careful

    The inexperienced gardener messed with my garden.

  5. fizzle / ˈfɪz əl / (v.) – to end slowly

    Her interest in math fizzled after her favorite teacher left.


Read the text below.

A Michigan city agreed to pay $1,000 to a driver to settle a lawsuit about marking tires to catch parking violators.

The deal in Bay City followed a declaration in August 2022 that a similar practice in Saginaw was illegal. U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington said chalking tires without a warrant violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.

“The whole point of this is to set clear lines,” attorney Phil Ellison said. “Police just can’t kick down your door. The same parallel here is when the government starts messing with our cars.”

Jody Tyvela received tickets at least six times in 2016-17. Without having time meters, parking enforcers marked tires to determine who was parked too long in downtown Bay City.

Tyvela will receive $1,000 and her attorneys will get $59,000 under the settlement with Bay City and the city’s Downtown Development Authority. The Development Authority was responsible for most of it.

Messages seeking comment were left with city officials.

Thousands of parking tickets based on tire markings likely were written in Bay City. But the class-action status of the lawsuit fizzled because the city lacked complete records, Ellison said.

And, like the Saginaw case, vehicle owners only would have received $1 for each marking, he said.

“There was no good way to proceed,” Ellison said.

The judge said tire marking was unconstitutional after Ellison won key decisions at a federal appeals court whose opinions cover Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky.

A federal appeals court with jurisdiction in nine western states made a different decision in October 2022 in a tire-marking case from San Diego.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Tyvela has received a $1,000 settlement for her parking violations because the enforcers messed with her car. What do you think about this (ex. fair, unfair)? Why do you think so? Discuss.
  • What do you think can be the best way to prevent people from violating parking rules (ex. add more parking signs, create more paid parking spaces)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • If you were in Michigan and your tires were marked for a parking violation, would you file a complaint? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In your country, how strict are authorities when it comes to parking rules? Do you think parking rules in your city or country are effective? Why or why not? Discuss.