6/18/2020Ohio Supreme Court Weighs Another Speed Camera Challenge
Speed camera company asks Ohio Supreme Court to block class action lawsuit against illegally issued photo tickets in Girard.
The top judges in Ohio are poised to take up the issue of photo ticketing once again. On Wednesday, the state Supreme Court allowed former attorney general Marc E. Dann to bolster his legal team for a challenge to Girard's use of cameras to enforce an illegally low speed limit. The state Court of Appeals granted the case class action status in April. Blue Line Solutions, the for-profit company that operates Girard's automated ticketing machines, is demanding that the high court block the class action certification.
"This appeal presents a case of public and great general interest," company attorney Robert S. Yallech wrote earlier this month.
Under state court rules, Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge Andrew D. Logan has broad authority to certify a class action lawsuit. The only way to overturn such a decision is to prove that the judge abused his discretion -- a high bar for the photo ticketing company.
From December 7, 2017, to January 7, 2018, Girard 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 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.
The class action suit seeks refunds for everyone who was issued one of those $104 to $179 tickets during that period. Blue Line unsuccessfully insisted that people accused by the machine of traveling 75 MPH are not entitled to be part of the suit because they allegedly exceeded the proper 65 MPH speed limit by at least 10 MPH.
"We disagree that, even if the trial court were to determine that 65 MPH was the proper speed limit, class members traveling in excess of 75 MPH would not have suffered an injury-in-fact," Judge Matt Lynch wrote for the unanimous Court of Appeals panel. "While we offer no opinion on the merits of the argument, the claim that the citations are invalid 'ab initio' is a sufficient demonstration of common evidence that all class members have allegedly suffered some injury."
The appellate court rejected the rest of the speed camera company's claim as premature and charged all costs for the appeal to the company. A copy of the Court of Appeals decision granting class action status is available in a 400k PDF file at the source link below.