Andy Kassner and Joe Argentina authored an article for The Legal Intelligencer titled “Bankruptcy Judge Sanctions Philadelphia Parking Authority for Causing Emotional Distress From Car Towing.” The article discusses the decision in a Chapter 13 case, In re Odom, 570 B.R. 718 (E.D. Pa. 2017), where Chief Judge Eric Frank of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania awarded the debtor compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress, against the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), as a result of the PPA towing the debtor’s car two times for not paying pre-petition parking tickets.
The court’s decision is an early ruling in the wake of the 3rd Circuit’s recent In re Lansaw decision, which opened the door for debtors to assert damage claims for emotional distress in connection with willful stay violations, and without presenting medical evidence. This case is an indication that courts may continue to award damages on this basis when appropriate.