7/19/2011Tennessee: Man Sues Traffic Camera Company Over Double Billing
Federal lawsuit seeks damages from Redflex after Tennessee man is double-billed by a red light camera.
Drivers often get the run around when dealing with the traffic ticket bureaucracy. When fighting city hall, individuals usually have no little hope of prevailing. Motorist Harry A. Church realized that with red light cameras, the system was outsourced from city hall to a company that could be more easily sued. After being double-billed by the Australian red light camera company Redflex Traffic Systems, Church filed a lawsuit that has been taken up by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
On November 16, 2009, Church received a notice in the mail from Redflex claiming his car had run a red light in the town of Jonesborough. On the same day, Church mailed payment of the $88.75 fine. Redflex which cashed the check. On March 13, 2010, Redflex sent a second notice insisting that Church pay again or be reported to a collection agency. Church states he faced "coarse and abrupt opposition and accusation" when he called the company to resolve the situation. The next day, a Redflex employee told Church he was to be reported to a credit bureau for non-payment.
Church sent Redflex an invoice billing the company $120 for two hours of his time wasted on the company's mistake. The firm ignored the notice. Church then secured the services of an attorney who filed the suit alleging double-billing is a common problem in Jonesborough because of the reckless conduct of Redflex. Church is asking for $3000 in compensatory relief plus punitive damages of $1 million.
In a brief filed July 7, Redflex asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The firm argued that Church failed to prove negligence on the part of the company because Redflex has no duty to get things right.
"Redflex is entitled to dismissal because no facts are alleged which establish a special relationship or otherwise demonstrate a duty of care as between Redflex and plaintiff," Redflex attorney Michael S. Kelley wrote. "The sole contact between plaintiff and Redflex occurred when he contacted the company after receiving a dunning letter which was apparently an error. As a matter of law, this tenuous connection is insufficient to establish a duty of care on behalf of Redflex."
Redflex also argued that there was no basis for the extravagant $1 million damage claim and that the company may not even be at fault.
"There is not and cannot be a good faith claim that the company engaged in some type of fraudulent conduct, attempting to get double payment for one violation," Kelley wrote. "There are no facts alleged which establish that this ongoing problem was caused by Redflex, as opposed to the town or the bank where the town's funds are held."