My Crazy Life – Ottawa’s Philadelphia Lawyer

Ask anybody you know whether a parking ticket or any other ticket can be annulled after it gets issued. They will guarantee it is not, I say it is. Ask anybody you know to tell you how difficult it is to get reimbursed by a municipality as a result of their negligence. They will say mightily, I say easy-peasy. Those people that you know might say that I am “full of it”, but there is nothing “full” about being a “Philadelphia lawyer” and knowing people’s weak points in order to get the most favourable outcome for yourself.

These two stories are examples of why it is important to be knowledgeable on all-things everything, and how a solid foundational understanding of legalities can sometimes neutralize the law skills of people who went to school to study law.

Golijanin vs Algonquin College’s Parking Enforcement Team, 2014

Parking tickets can not be cancelled after they are issued – FALSE.

My beef with Algonquin College’s parking enforcement team stemmed from a summer parking ticket I got in 2014, for not filling out the license plate section of my parking pass and carrying it with me since I was running late for my Saturday morning exam. The parking team’s excuse for issuing my parking ticket and refusing to cancel it was that there were no identifying tracers on my parking pass, even though I could have brought my credit card statement the following month to prove that I had paid for it. Additionally, they refused to look at their cameras to see whether I was the one that paid for the ticket. As I was leaving their office, they told me, “you literally could have written anything into the plate section of the ticket and not been ticketed because blank tickets can get shared with other people.” What kind of asinine logic was that?

Everything I was hearing sounded like a “them problem”, not a “me problem”, and yet I was paying for their problem. As is the case with me, no good deed goes unnoticed. So, I literally took every opportunity to input words that showed my appreciation for them, and the plate section allowed for a maximum of eight characters. Believe it or not, the “plate” section shenanigans would last until December 11th, 2014, almost four full months.

On December 11th, 2014, I decided to input a single “A” in the license plate section, leaving the parking pass on my front dash, but this time I got a ticket. After looking over the ticket, I went to go visit the parking team’s office to get them to revoke the ticket. Initially, their office tried to stiff arm me into the ticket, but I was intellectually outmaneuvering them, so they told me to email their manager as they were powerless in this situation.

When I established a line of communication with the parking team’s manager, he tried repeating more of the same, but he would purposely take multiple days between responses, which I believe was meant to push me closer to the “pay early” date and so that I would relent and pay the ticket. However, I read him like the countless books I have read from Ottawa’s public libraries, so I highlighted the need for better communication and him never being at his office when I would visit, multiple times a day. After that, he completely stopped replying to me, but I had all that I needed to show up at City Hall and get my parking ticket annulled.

During my meeting with the judge, I explained the situation and all that had transpired after I had paid for that parking pass, while omitting any mention of my previous shenanigans. The only question that the judge asked me was why I had waited so long to dispute the ticket, to which I responded by saying that I thought that it could have been resolved without wasting her time and by showing her my correspondence with the parking team’s manager. The judge sided with me, stating that this seemed to be a precedent setting situation and that the security team’s manager had displayed egregious behavior and that she wanted his name so that she could follow up with the college and make sure that none of us wasted her time ever again. When the judge took out her “cancelled” stamp and stamped my ticket, I witnessed something that everyone had said was impossible, the cancelling of a previously issued ticket, many days later.

Before I left, I knew I needed my parking ticket or nobody would believe me that I had managed to pull this off, which I likened to a championship trophy, so I asked the judge if I could hold on to the ticket. When the judge asked why, I omitted some of my reasoning while explaining that I wanted to make sure that it was actually cancelled and that nothing more would come out of this ticket. The judge relented and allowed me to hold on to the ticket, suggesting that I avoid posting about the ticket because her decision to cancel a ticket was something that gets done in the rarest of circumstances.

In the end, the judge scored this contest as a majority decision for “Ottawa’s Philadelphia lawyer”, but I would argue that I TKO’d Algonquin College’s parking team, and that they only made it to a decision because they were saved by the bell.

Golijanin vs The City of Toronto, 2013

In the early 2010s, I went to visit some friends that had moved to Toronto, and if there is one thing that Torontonians will recall about that time period it is that the entire city seemed to be under repair. Walking down the sidewalk of many major streets was next to impossible because of how much roadwork was getting done and the metal barrier fences that were erected everywhere.

On the day of my accident, my friends and I were going on an evening walk to one of the nearby stores, when I got distracted by a passerby, and in that split second, the side of my foot got sliced by one of the fences metal footings that was tilting upwards and protruding onto the sidewalk. Although the trip up was minor, a shuffling of the feet before regaining balance, it had a major impact on my brand-new shoes.

A few weeks before that trip, I had bought a pair of gold Air Max Nikes with a unique pattern on them, the ones I was wearing when the outside of my foot got sliced. I remember my stomach sinking when I saw the rip, less concerned about the few trickles of blood that had started to come out and more horrified about the fact that these brand-new shoes were now dead. All it took was a split second, I had turned my head at a passerby and lost track of what was in front of me, and my mistake caused me to have an accident. Or did it?

Upon further inspection, I saw that the entire row of fencing had its rectangular footing protruding onto the sidewalk and on an upward angle, stretching down the entire street and it was causing other people who were walking on the streetside of the sidewalk to stumble because of how crowded the streets were. So, I took out my phone and started taking pictures because I was going to request that the City of Toronto reimburse me for the cost of my shoes. Although I may have turned my head at a passerby, this act alone did not cause my injury and it was the negligence of the construction workers who had erected the fencing to block off the streets that were at fault, because of how the footing was protruding onto the sidewalk and on an upward angle and with no warning signs anywhere.

Not long after, I would file a claim with the City of Toronto, who retained a “neutral party” to assess the area and to determine the credibility of my claim. As is the case with most municipalities, or any person who makes a claim against them, the municipality tried to weasel out of reimbursing me for my shoes by referencing a multi-page report that the “neutral party” had published regarding my claim. Long story short, I followed up with the city after I identified flaws in the report, and I made clear demands to be reimbursed for the cost of my shoes or that I would pursue a greater claim for injury. With that said, a cheque was expedited to my address for the full cost of my shoes, and without being requested to provide them a proof of purchase.

For the purpose of this article, I requested a copy of this cheque from the City of Toronto through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. Somehow the third-person wording of my request seemed to spook the FOI team, “a copy and confirmation of cheque made payable to Aleksandar Golijanin of Ottawa for a damages claim brought forth in 2013”, and they wanted to know the exact reason for requesting the cheque. To relieve some of the tension, I responded by saying that my request was entirely vainglorious, as a non-lawyer and shortly after entering my 20s, I was able to get reimbursed by the City of Toronto for my damaged shoes, and I wanted to frame the cheque and hand it on my wall, as my first pre-academic accomplishment and because there was nothing cooler than being proud about brain power.

The FOI team responded by telling me that the information I was requesting was no longer on file, and they asked that I withdraw my request in writing and over email. Instead, I corrected them on the retention policies surrounding financial documents and a few other things before making my way to TD Bank branch to get the necessary information.

Suffice to say, “Ottawa’s Philadelphia lawyer” got a submission victory over “Toronto and Co.”.

Summary of findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

What I found out from these two experiences was that there is nothing special about anyone and that nobody is as smart or as capable as they might purport themselves to be. As a result, I conclude that if an outcome or situation lacks logic or sensibility then it must be challenged, with no exception, because backwards thinking should never be accepted as the norm. Henceforth, I recommend that people acquaint themselves with basic law principles starting with tort law, which deals with negligence of private duty, and to always make sure that they behave as consummate professionals, otherwise it might hurt their case.