1/2/2013New Jersey: Partial Refund For Illegal Traffic Camera Ticket Recipients
Red light camera company agrees to pay up to $4.2 million to settle lawsuit over illegally issued tickets in New Jersey.
More than 81,000 citations worth $10.2 million were issued in New Jersey through red light camera programs that were not in compliance with state law. Rather than fight a drawn out class action battle to defend the money it collected, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) last week filed a proposed settlement in federal court designed to limit the firm's liability to a sum "not to exceed" $4.2 million. Federal magistrates have scheduled a January 22 hearing to consider the settlement offer.
Lawyers representing motorists caught the firm issuing tickets in eighteen municipalities where officials failed to file traffic studies justifying the duration of the yellow timing at monitored intersections, as required by law. The municipalities also failed to perform the mandatory six-month inspection of the photo ticketing equipment. ATS insists the company did nothing wrong.
"ATS also has taken into account the uncertainty and risks inherent in any litigation and has, therefore, determined that it is desirable and beneficial to it that the litigation be settled in the manner and upon the terms and conditions set forth in this agreement," ATS lawyers Benjamin C. Caldwell and Robert D. Friedman wrote in their December 28 proposal.
If approved, the settlement would clear ATS from further liability from citations that were illegally issued prior to August 1, 2012, and ticket recipients will receive a postcard notifying them of the settlement. The ATS payment of $4.2 million will create a fund that covers the cost of mailing the postcards, $800,000 in legal fees for the lawyers who filed the class action suit, and a payment of $1000 each to the eighteen drivers named as plaintiffs in the suit. The expected amount left over for affected motorists is just $6. That means ATS could end up paying less than the $4.2 million amount if postcard recipients do not bother filling out the "proof of claim" form within 90 days just to receive a few dollars back.
"All settlement class members who fail to timely submit a proof of claim within such period... shall be forever barred from receiving any payments pursuant to the agreement and the settlement set forth herein," the proposed settlement states. "If there is any balance remaining in the net settlement fund after three months from the date of completion of payments from the settlement fund to authorized claimants, the claims administrator shall return the remaining balance of the net settlement fund to ATS."
Redflex Traffic Systems is also a party to the lawsuits but has yet to file its own settlement proposal for tickets the Australian firm illegally issued in New Jersey. A copy of the information packet for the proposed settlement is available in a 700k PDF file at the source link below.