By Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director
The Ticket Cam Alert is a weekly feature of the NMA blog. Please feel free to comment below the post.
Recent Ticket Cam Lawsuits Decided in Four Different States
Even though the country is in lockdown, four cases involving automated camera class action lawsuits were decided in the last month. Three involve red-light cameras lawsuits, and the fourth was a speed camera class-action case we highlighted in the last Ticket Cam USA blog.
After seven years, motorist Allyson Eighmey’s class-action suit against the city of Cleveland will go forward. In April, the state Court of Appeals restored the suit and allowed it to be tested on the merits of the case finally. The city has been battling the case over minor procedural points.
Eighmey filed the suit because, according to the city’s speed camera ordinance, signs are required to indicate speed camera locations. In 2013, the automated camera company Xerox used unmarked vans with no signage to catch motorists.
Several months after the suit was filed, 78 percent of Cleveland voters passed a measure to outlaw both speed cameras and red-light cameras.
According to sources, the city will now have difficulty to beat Eighmey’s case on its merits, because it has already conceded the main point of contention—the mobile speed units were used during the time.
The Eleventh Circuit US Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in April on a $29 Million case over Florida red-light camera fees. The question surrounds the idea that the automated camera company American Traffic Solutions (ATS, or now known as Verra Mobility) has been illegally collecting surcharges from drivers who have received a red-light camera ticket in the Sunshine state. Of course, Verra Mobility lawyers insisted the company was not doing anything wrong.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers in the class action argued that the city of North Miami Beach assigned powers to Verra Mobility that the city never had. Attorney Bret L. Lusskin said that Verra has been acting as a government agent and cannot collect fees that the state legislature states local governments cannot collect. Most Florida RLC fines are $158, but Verra collects a five percent fee on fines paid by credit card.
About three out of four motorists pay online or by phone, and it’s estimated that Verra Mobility collected 3.7 million ($29 million) from fees in the past five years.
The ruling will be announced in the next several months.
You win some—you lose some. In Alabama, motorists lost in all respects.
The state’s Supreme Court recently upheld the dismissal of several lawsuits that challenged the use of RLCs in Midfield, Center Point, and Opelika. The reason for the dismissals: in one case, motorists paid the tickets without first fighting the legitimacy of these violations under current state law. The judges also announced that in another case, the plaintiffs waited too long to file. The court also reversed an additional case from Montgomery that had been filed against the city and automated camera company vendor.
Can you believe the math on this one?
Suffolk County RLC fines are $50, which is the maximum charge set by the state legislature. The county tacked on an administrative fee of $30. After a fiscal crisis in 2013, the county again added an additional fee of another $30 per ticket, while officials doubled the number of cameras from 50 to 100. Between 2010 and 2012, automated camera company ACS/Xerox (now called Conduent) generated $13 million in net profit for the county. In 2014, due to the extra $30, the cams generated an additional $9.6 million. The actual class-action suit was filed four years ago by motorists Robert McGrath, Jr., who challenged the constitutionality of the administrative fee.
Judges ruled that the $30 on top of the $50 is unconstitutional because, as Justice Reilly wrote, “The plain reading of the NY State statute precludes the county from collecting anything more than $50 per violation. The designation of which portion of the maximum liability is fee or fine is entirely in the discretion of Suffolk County.”
A similar lawsuit is pending in Nassau County, which collects the $50 fine plus a $55 public-safety fee and a $45 driver-responsibility fee.
Here are the other Top Five Ticket Cam Alert USA stories or editorials from the past two weeks:
- Automated License Plate Readers, the Mosaic Theory, and the Fourth Amendment
- Why Red-Light Cameras are Dice Loaded against Trucks
- State rep presses Illinois DOT to help Oak Brook in their efforts to remove red-light cameras
- Maryland OKs doing away with suspensions for red-light camera violators
- The Philadelphia Parking Authority or PPA reports $6M loss from suspending fees during coronavirus pandemic
NMA Resources to fight against Ticket Cams and other Street and In-Car Surveillance
NMA Issue Pages:
Check out the NMA Facebook Page called the Ticket Cam Alert USA
We are currently building a closed Facebook Group called the Ticket Cam Alert USA Discussion Group for local and state activists to have a space to discuss best practices and ask questions.
Also, here are some NMA blog posts that might be of interest!
- 10 Reasons to Oppose Red-Light Cameras
- How to fight Red-Light Cameras in Your Neck of the Woods
- Build a Ballot Petition Campaign against Red-Light Cameras
- The “Gold Standard” for Red-Light Camera Accident Analysis
- The Truth About Speed Cameras: They Don’t Work
- Ticket Cameras Create Major Due Process Concerns
If you would like to keep track of the many issues currently involved in automated ticket cameras and street surveillance, take a daily peek at the NMA’s Driving News Feed or subscribe to Driving News Daily, a five times per week email.
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