LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A man filed a claim against the city of Los Angeles Tuesday alleging that his car was towed and later sold at auction earlier this year while he was recovering from cancer surgery.

According to the claim — the first step towards filing a civil rights lawsuit — Joseph Morrissey’s car was parked on the street in front of his home in Northeast L.A. for more than a week while he was hospitalized after undergoing cancer surgery back in February.

When he got home, he found a citation on his car, and then three days later, the car was towed, according to a news release from the Public Counsel, a pro-bono law firm representing Morrissey.

Because he was home recovering from surgery, Morrissey was unable to move the vehicle, the law firm states.

Morrissey paid a $68 fine and contested the citation, noting his hospitalization, Public Counsel says. However, the city denied his contest and later sold the car at auction.

“The City tows otherwise safely parked cars after 72 hours, but then refuses to consider evidence submitted to contest citations and impound,” said attorney Nisha Kashyap in a statement. “This not only disproportionally impacts low-income residents, but it’s also ableist. These practices discriminate against people like Mr. Morrissey whose medical conditions restrict their ability to move a car.”

Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said the office has yet to receive a copy of the claim and had no immediate comment.

The Los Angeles City Council voted earlier this year to oppose a state bill, Assembly Bill 516, which would “severely hamper” the city’s ability to tow and impound cars that have unpaid parking tickets or other violations, according to city documents.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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