11/9/2018Ohio Judge To Rule On Ohio Speed Camera Legality
Class action lawsuit takes on speed camera tickets issued in a construction zone weeks after construction ended.
Attorney Marc E. Dann is back in an Ohio courthouse in his challenge to the speed camera program in Girard. After attempting to make his argument before a federal judge earlier this year, Dann has recast his class action suit with a new legal theory that will meet its first test. On Wednesday, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew D. Logan began considering the key question of whether the case should be allowed to proceed to trial.
Dann insists his clients cannot be charged with violating the speed limit because they were not, in fact, speeding. From December 7, 2017, to January 7, 2018, the city posted a lowered 55 MPH construction zone speed limit on a stretch of Interstate 80 where construction was already complete and the limit should have been 65 MPH. Motorist John Perfette paid the $100 ticket after his 2011 Cadillac was photographed traveling 65 MPH a day before the incorrect sign came down. When he saw in the news that the speed limit had been improperly posted, he asked for a hearing to reopen the case in light of the new evidence. Girard refused.
"Per the Girard Police Department, this was in fact a posted 55 MPH speed zone and all citations are valid, and no refunds will be issued," a letter from the police department's "Photo Speed Division" stated. "This matter is closed."
The unsigned letter had the logo of the Girard police department, but the return address was a UPS Store in Austintown used by Blue Line Solutions. Dann says Girard and this company were fully aware that the construction was over, but they kept mailing out tickets anyway.
"In a malicious combination, Blue Line and the city of Girard engaged in a civil conspiracy to cause injury to plaintiffs and class members by engaging in a common scheme to generate revenue through the systematic issuance of the unlawful citations," Dann wrote.
Blue Line insisted the whole case should be thrown out because the company has nothing to do with issuing tickets.
"Plaintiffs' vain attempt to show that Blue Line Solutions was somehow involved in these transactions is truly disingenuous," company attorney Robert S. Yallech wrote. "Of course Blue Line Solutions provided the cameras and processed the citations on behalf of the city of Girard. That is precisely what is permitted by the very statutes cited by plaintiffs in their complaint."
Blue Line Solutions cashes the checks for each ticket, as can be verified in banking records provided by the motorists. It also generates the tickets, prints the notice, mails the citation and provides customer service if a ticket recipient calls with questions. That, Dann insists, is the same as "issuing" the ticket.
"Blue Line Solutions's contention that it does not accept any payment of the fines fails to acknowledge the exhibits to the complaint, at best, and, at worst, is a misrepresentation to the court," Dann wrote.