Joliet, Ill., faces class action lawsuit over trucker ticketing practices

December 9, 2022

Chuck Robinson


A recently filed class action lawsuit alleges the city of Joliet, Ill., has crafted a snare to entrap and fine truck drivers.

Attorneys filing the civil lawsuit want it certified as a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of truck drivers.

At issue is the practice of the city to issue tickets to truckers for overweight and overlength vehicles. The city adjudicates the cases itself, sidestepping a legal requirement that commercial truck moving violations and offenses must be judged by and reported to the state.

The alleged scheme has generated millions of dollars of revenue for the city, according to a lawsuit filed Nov. 29 by Joliet attorney Frank Andreano and two attorneys with a Chicago law firm, Karl Leinberger and Paul Markoff of Markoff Leinberger LLC.

Intermodal terminal

Joliet is the state’s third-largest city and is 40 miles from Chicago. It straddles the junction of Interstate 55 and Interstate 80. The city also is home to the Joliet Intermodal Terminal. The terminal is the lure drawing truck drivers into the city’s trap, according to Andreano.

“One of the streets connecting the intermodal (terminal) to a truck route (and the most direct way to the truck route) is down a street that is weight restricted. For drivers unfamiliar with the area it is very confusing,” Andreano told Land Line. “I have found that drivers relying on personal GPS (and not the commercial trucker version, i.e., Qualcomm/Garmin, etc.) turn and then realize they are on a weight/size restricted roadway. The roadway is very narrow and there is nowhere to turn around, and the cops are sitting waiting.”

The lawsuit alleges the city has overstepped its authority by setting up a streamlined administrative adjudication process to collect fines from commercial truck drivers. The state has that authority.

What’s more, this class action lawsuit was preceded by a similar one filed on behalf of four other truck drivers. Three days before the class action lawsuit was filed, the court of appeals in the other case decided in favor of the truck drivers that the city had overstepped its legal authority in judging the cases pertaining to the regulation of moving vehicles.


The city set up its alleged trucker-ticketing scheme in two moves, one in 2015 and the other in 2017.

First, in 2015, Joliet enacted ordinances limiting the length of vehicles on nondesignated streets to 55 feet, with a few exceptions, including tow trucks, school busses, emergency vehicles or trucks headed for an address on the street.

The city also enacted an overweight ordinance making it unlawful to operate any vehicle over 24,000 pounds on any nondesignated city road.

The city’s ordinances largely mirror the Illinois vehicle code, which the lawsuit points out has jurisdiction over the issues. The city is working to circumvent using state courts by administratively adjudicating the cases.

In the second maneuver by Joliet, in 2017 it established a commercial truck enforcement unit in its police force to issue more tickets to truckers.

“In the first 14 months after this new unit was created, Joliet issued tickets totaling over $2.2 million,” according to the lawsuit. “Joliet retains all of the funds generated through its scheme. If these tickets were adjudicated in an Illinois court, Joliet would have to share the proceeds from the fines with other units of government.”

Four plaintiffs

In this lawsuit, four professional truck drivers are listed as plaintiffs. Three are U.S. residents and one resides in Canada. All were ticketed by city police from 2019 through 2022. All four men paid the fines to avoid penalties being added to the amount.

The four plaintiffs:

  • California resident Iuri Culev, who was ticketed on Jan. 6, 2021 for driving an overlength vehicle on a nondesignated city street and fined $500.
  • Missouri resident Richard Bagley, who was ticketed Sept. 17 for driving an overlength vehicle on a nondesignated city street. He was fined $250.
  • Ontario, Canada, resident Vasan Tharamalingham, who was ticketed June 2 for an overweight vehicle. He paid a $250 municipal fine.
  • Illinois resident Maciej Gasienica Sobczak, who was ticketed Nov. 4, 2019, for driving an overlength vehicle on a nondesignated city street. He paid a $500 municipal fine.

Problems with the city’s administrative adjudication

The administrative adjudication process is a streamlined process that deprives ticketed truck drivers of due process, the lawsuit claims.

“For the purposes of these so-called hearings in Joliet’s administrative system, the Illinois rules of civil procedure and Illinois rules of evidence do not apply,” reads the lawsuit.

An administrative law officer presides over the cases. The ticket itself is considered prima facie evidence of guilt. There is no testimony from police officers, so they cannot be cross-examined. However, officers are almost always the only witness for the prosecution, and no corroborating video or the evidence admitted.

The city’s end-around to avoid the cases being judged in state court allow the city to keep all the proceeds from fines and not share the money with other units of government.

“In gaming terms, Joliet stacks the deck in its favor and then keeps all of the winnings,” the lawsuit explains.

The administrative adjudication process also means the state does not assess points for violations, which can affect driving privileges, and it also does not report the violations to federal authorities.

City of Joliet and truckers

The city has a long history of antagonism toward truck drivers. Staff Writer Tyson Fisher says Joliet may be the most written about city in the history of his regular Land Line Magazine feature The Parking Zone.

Fisher has documented the city’s battle against a QuikTrip truck stop there this year. A Love’s Travel Stop ran into NIMBY resistance there. Last year, Joliet residents complained of trucks parking in strip mall parking lots. LL