7/31/2015Federal Judge Tosses Red Light Camera Lawsuit Filed Against Fifty-Three Cities
Federal court rules that a man can only sue the city and vendor that actually mailed him a red light camera ticket.
One man cannot file a lawsuit against every Texas city that uses red light cameras. That was the ruling Wednesday by US District Judge John McBryde in throwing out the wide-ranging suit filed in April by James H. Watson against fifty-three towns. The judge will hear Watson's arguments only against Southlake, the town that actually ticketed him, and its vendor, Redflex Traffic Solutions of Australia.
"While the parties and the court devoted significant resources to the presentation of and resolution of the motions to dismiss, in the final analysis the issue that the dismissals turned on was a relatively uncomplicated issue as to whether plaintiff had standing to sue cities and private entities who had done nothing to harm him," Judge McBryde wrote.
Watson, a Shreveport, Louisiana resident, received a $75 ticket in the mail after his 2009 Honda was photographed at the intersection of FM-1709 and Pearson Lane in Southlake. Watson argues that the city had threatened his credit rating if he did not pay up, even though he was not driving the car at the time. He argued that the state law authorizing the use of automated ticketing machines violates the state constitution in order to generate over $128 million in revenue.
By suing so many cities, the court docket quickly swelled as each city had to individually respond to the claims. Watson tried to escape dismissal by arguing the case should be transferred back to state court, where he had originally filed his case. Judge McBryde said it would be "grossly unfair" to the cities to give Watson a second chance to make the same arguments in a different venue.
"Sending those claims back to state court would serve unnecessarily to multiply the time and expense incurred by fifty-two Texas municipalities if they were to be required upon a return to state court to again go through the procedures they already have gone through in federal court to persuade the court that the state law claims against them should be dismissed," Judge McBryde wrote. "The waste of taxpayer-generated funds that would result from such an outcome is an exceptional circumstance as to why this court has properly maintained, and should maintain, supplemental jurisdiction for resolution of those claims."
The ruling came as a relief to the state's other red light camera providers, American Traffic Solutions and Xerox, who were let off the legal hook.
"Obey the law, stop on red and standing will never be an issue," ATS spokesman Charles Territo told TheNewspaper.
The cities of Allen, Amarillo, Arlington, Austin, Balch Springs, Balcones Heights, Bastrop, Baytown, Bedford, Burleson, Cedar Hill, Cleveland, Conroe, Coppell, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Denton, Diboll, Duncanville, Elgin, Farmers Branch, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie, Haltom, Humble, Hurst, Hutto, Irving, Jersey Village, League City, Little Elm, Longview, Lufkin, Magnolia, Marshall, Mesquite, Port Lavaca, Plano, Richardson, Richland Hills, Roanoke, Round Rock, Sugar Land, Tomball, University Park, Watauga and Willis were also dismissed from the suit.
A copy of the final ruling is available in a 500k PDF file at the source link below.