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4/13/2017
Ohio Town Fights To Avoid $3.4 Million Speed Camera Refund
New Miami, Ohio loses again in Court of Appeals as it tries to prevent refund of $3.4 million in illegally issued speed camera tickets.

Bennett A. Manning
New Miami, Ohio will do anything to keep from paying back the $3 million in speed camera tickets illegally issued by Optotraffic, the town's vendor. Butler County Judge Michael A. Oster Jr will speak to the parties in the case next Wednesday after having put a temporary halt to enforcement of his February judgment (view ruling).

The court found New Miami's automated ticketing program unconstitutional, providing vehicle owners no realistic opportunity to defend themselves against the demand for $180 that they received in the mail. The court also decided New Miami was liable for paying back every illegal ticket. Village attorneys promptly asked the state Court of Appeals to reverse Judge Oster. The village faces an uphill battle, as the state's second highest court (view ruling) approved the class action lawsuit last year, and the Ohio Supreme Court chose not to intervene.

"This case was originally filed in 2013," Charles H. Rittgers wrote on behalf of motorists. "It is time to bring this matter to a close."

Rittgers is demanding the return of $3 million in tickets, plus $367,560 in interest, for a total of $3,433,982. Rittgers argues that the village's appeal is inappropriate because Judge Oster has yet to issue a final judgment covering all the details of the refund.

"A number of issues remain pending, including the actual amount of restitution to be paid to the class as a whole and the manner of distribution of those funds," Rittgers explained.

The Court of Appeals last week agreed once more with the motorists.

"There will almost certainly be an appeal filed from whatever damage award is made, and from whatever attorney fee award is fashioned by the trial court," appellate court administrator Bennett A. Manning wrote in his order. "Judicial economy is better served by waiting until final resolution of all these issues."

Among other things, the village wanted the Court of Appeals to rule that it was only liable to pay back 60 percent of the ticket amount, since Optotraffic pocketed the rest. The appellate court instead will only hear an appeal of Judge Oster's decision denying sovereign immunity to New Miami. A copy of the appellate ruling is available in a 450k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Barrow v. New Miami (Court of Appeals, State of Ohio, 4/4/2017)



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