2/22/2019Ohio Town Dragging Out Speed Camera Ticket Refunds
New Miami, Ohio argues for more delay in paying back $3.6 million in speed camera tickets after program deemed unconstitutional.
The village of New Miami, Ohio, has been fighting -- and losing -- a legal battle over its speed camera program since 2013. The state Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have already turned aside multiple procedural appeals. Those rulings all sided with Judge Michael A. Oster Jr, who deemed New Miami's automated ticketing program unconstitutional because it gave vehicle owners no realistic opportunity to defend themselves after receiving a $180 ticket in the mail. As a result, the town must pay back every ticket issued in its name. How that money is paid back has become the subject of controversy.
In its filings earlier this month, the town's lawyers sought to expand the case at the last minute as a means of putting off the process of writing $3.6 million in refund checks (a figure that includes $533,604 in interest owed). In December, the court ordered the town to also pay the costs of letting people know about the refunds.
"Upon full consideration, and for the reasons as more fully set forth in plaintiffs' briefs, the court finds it appropriate that as defendant has been found liable, defendant village of New Miami shall bear the costs of the notice to the class for publication," Judge Oster ruled.
New Miami is challenging the amount of the interest, the payment of legal fees of the motorists who won their case and the payment of money that went to the city's for-profit vendor, Optotraffic. As a matter of "equitable restitution," the city insists it should not have to pay back Optotraffic's 40 percent cut of the ticket profit.
"Key to this legal remedy is identifying the amount of money actually received by and traceable to defendant," city attorney James J. Englert wrote. "The amount of restitution that it must return to class members cannot exceed the amount the village received under the program."
As a result, New Miami claims it only has to pay back $1,829,914 instead of the full $3.6 million. The village insisted motorists will have to sue Optotraffic to get their rest of the cash back. Judge Oster has already allowed New Miami to pay back the illegally issued tickets on a ten-year installment plan. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 13.