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City files class-action suit against service members with abandoned cars

In an effort to speed up its ability to dispose of current and future vehicles abandoned by military service members, the city filed a class-action lawsuit today seeking to consolidate required hearings for the owners into one case.

Abandoned vehicles have been a growing problem on Oahu streets and those belonging to service members make up a good share of them. City officials say the city is now storing more than 200 vehicles whose owners cannot be located.

With the city’s lots already at capacity, Oahu is still averaging one abandoned vehicle a day, the lawsuit said.

City officials say the lawsuit is an attempt to make it easier for them to dispose of vehicles belonging to military members that they have been required to store. An agreement they reached with the Department of Justice in February still requires the city to auction or sell a vehicle only if it receives a written waiver by the owner, or through a court order.

This lawsuit essentially seeks to satisfy that requirement by holding one hearing against all of them.

The new system, however, benefits military members who’ve abandoned their vehicles because a class action will make it unnecessary to identify them, something that could affect their insurance premiums, City Corporation Counsel Donna Leong said.

Until the city is successful and obtains a court order, service members still will be offered the opportunity for a hearing as stipulated in the agreement

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