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Rash of Lawsuits Challenge Red-Light Camera Ordinances; Cities and Camera Company Sued

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A judge's opinion questioning St. Louis' red-light camera ordinance has prompted a handful of new class-action suits against other Missouri municipalities who use the controversial traffic technology.

This month, attorneys Ryan Keane and John Campbell with the Simon Law Firm filed class-action suits against Creve Coeur, Florissant, Ellisville, Arnold and Kansas City arguing that red-light cameras in those cities violate Missouri law. The suit also names as a defendant the camera vendor for those cities -- American Traffic Solutions, aka ATS.

Keane and Campbell base their argument on the "partial judgment" Judge Mark Neil made May 20 in a class-action suit filed against St. Louis that continues to wend its way though court. In that decision, which is under appeal, Neil wrote:
"The use of an automated traffic control system to police traffic offenses is a drastic departure from the traditional police powers granted to municipalities; and seen here, it raises a whole host of legal and constitutional issues. A municipality may only exercise its police powers under authority granted to it by the state...Because the red-light camera ordinance does not enact 'rules of the road' or 'traffic regulations,' the Court finds, in absence of other enabling legislation by the State of Missouri, that the City of St. Louis did not have authority to enact such and Ordinance. Therefore, ordinance #66868 is void."
"If Judge Neil's opinion holds up, then it's true across the state," Keane tells Daily RFT. "And if these cameras are truly about public safety then people should accrue points on their licenses when they get a red-light camera citation. But that's not the case, because they're treated as a non-moving violation even though state law defines a running a red-light as a moving violation."

Particularly galling, says Keane, is the way municipalities skirt the law in order to collect from those people it believes ran the light. "In Creve Coeur and Ellisville they're not even trying to go after the actual driver who allegedly violated the signal," says Keane. "They hold vehicle owners liable even if the owner can prove he wasn't the driver."

The attorneys hope their lawsuits will void the red-light ordinances in the cities they've filed suit against and get a full refund for those who've paid the citations. ATS is named in the suit, says Keane, because it's an "out-of-state corporation that is funneling millions of dollars out of Missouri economy to Arizona" and because the company was instrumental in helping to draft the local ordinances allowing for the cameras.

Keane believes other circuit court judges will side with Neil's ruling. In so doing, Keane and his law firm could be awarded legal fees or a portion of any settlement.

View a copy of the Creve Coeur suit after the jump.
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9 comments
rpbrandel57
rpbrandel57

my son who is 18 got a ticket from red light camera and they say i have to pay it cause my name is on the car.  is it legal for them to ruin my 700 credit rating what should i do. 

Lighting
Lighting

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guest
guest

Red light camera traffic tickets do not take into account the circumstances as required.  For example is the yellow light to short?  Can the light change be seen in time to stop safely?  Would the sudden stop of violated defensive driving principles?  Was the intersection wet?

Kansas City, MO, Municipal courts have a history of not being courts of justice rather simply revenue sources.  I will now not shop in KCMO until have recouped twice the ticket amount in taxes I would have otherwise paid in KCMO.  The Chamber of Commences should put pressure on the cities to eliminate these red light cameras that hurt their business.  Also, KCMO need to reform their Municipal Court.  Remember we are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty.

Bridgetdscott
Bridgetdscott

st louis red light camara ordinance was a rip  off from the start.  channel four had a segment on this ordinance were a citizen take his ticket to court an won. NOW, if eveyone who was issued one of these bogus ticket could get in line for a refund would that be awesome. 

Matt Hay
Matt Hay

This is so wonderful. The light these municipalities are seeing at the end of the tunnel is a legal freight train getting ready to run over their Goldman Sachs owned cash cow (American Traffic Solutions). ATS should have listened to their own Attorney's who originally told them this scam was illegal, but instead, decided to buy off local politicians and proceed full speed ahead. A reckoning is coming........

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

This suit should prevail, if justice actually prevails.  Red light cameras are about money, not safety, and the way the citations are issued clearly shows that fact.  You can also see that as a fact by reading the science and research reports on our website which show that longer yellow intervals almost always produce fewer violations than ticket cameras.  The only true fix for red light cameras is to have them banned, either by statute or by the courts as illegal.   At www.thenewspaper.com you can see a list of states where cameras are banned and a list of cities where the voters voted them out.  Cameras have never survived a public vote.  James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, www.motorists.org, Ann Arbor, MI

handsome jimmy
handsome jimmy

Public safety my ass, just a blatant money grab under the guise of safety.

KITTY
KITTY

Well, it's about time someone challenged the law regarding red light cameras. They are nothing but a money grab by mostly little piss ant  speed-trap municipalities like Charlack and St. John, to name a few. Furthermore, the percentage of revenue the cities get from the fines is backwards. The cities should get the majority of the revenue generated by those fines instead of the lion's share going to Arizona. The only reason for the use of red light cameras is a money grab - easy money earned to fatten the coffers of the cities using the cameras. In my view, NO city or municipality should be allowed to use red light cameras UNLESS they maintain or pay to maintain the roads, streets or highways where the cameras are installed. Since the State of Missouri pays for and maintains state and federal highways, ONLY  it should earn monies generated from the cameras, not the little piss ant bergs who benefit from them most. If only the state earned monies from the cameras, the majority of them would disappear, leaving the donut eating pigs of Charlack and elswhere to get off their fat asses and pursue real crimes instead of sitting on their asses while raking in monies they do not deserve.

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