6/17/2011Florida City Agrees to Refund Illegal Red Light Camera Tickets
Pembroke Pines, Florida settles class action lawsuit by refunding illegally issued red light camera tickets.
Some Florida are beginning to regret jumping on the red light camera bandwagon without bothering to wait for state legislative approval. On Wednesday, the Pembroke Pines city commission voted to approve a settlement with attorney Jason D. Weisser who filed a lawsuit against a number of towns that began automated ticketing before state law was changed last July to allow automated ticketing.
Pembroke Pines collected a total of $450,854 from the program prior to July. By settling the case without going to trial, Pembroke Pines and American Traffic Solutions (ATS) will each contribute a third of their profit to the settlement fund -- $106,589 from the city and $28,667 from the vendor, plus about $10,000 in administrative costs. Ticket recipients would then receive a partial refund within six months from this fund. ATS has cut the same deal in all the other cities that Weisser sued.
"The city attorney's office and special counsel have reviewed the proposal, as well as the status of the litigation both in the city's specific case and in other cases," City Attorney Samuel S. Goren wrote in a memo to the commission. "Given the rulings to date, it cannot be said with any degree of certainty that the city would ultimately prevail."
Commission members on Wednesday also deferred the decision on a long-term renewal of its photo enforcement contract with ATS over concern that the program was not making money.
"We can't implement the program that's not economically sustainable for the city," Commissioner Carl Shechter said. "The cost of safety would become too high for the city."
ATS salesman Greg Parks explained that "the cameras were not producing the desired revenue" because the commission decided to drop right-turn-on-red ticketing. Parks insisted the fees his company charges are based on the number of tickets issued so that the city will never lose money.
"You can't pay us more than you take in," Parks said.
ATS offered a rebate and lowered costs for the program to entice the city to renew their contract. The company also agreed to move cameras out of non-profitable locations.
"There are places where these cameras are not working, not producing any income -- not for ATS, not for us," Shechter said. "And this is about revenue... in addition to safety. If there's no revenue, we are paying the bill for safety."