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Illinois Woman Sues Photo Ticketing Program For Fraud
Federal class action lawsuit seeks to strike down red light camera programs in Illinois over the lack of fair notice to ticket recipients.

Thomas G. Maag
A federal class action lawsuit is going after the photo ticketing industry in Illinois for failing to adhere to the law. According to attorney Thomas G. Maag, the red light camera ticket his client, Deborah Jarman, received from Verra Mobility (formerly American Traffic Solutions) in Granite City should have been served by certified mail -- but they were not. US Magistrate Judge Reona J. Daly on Wednesday ordered the attorneys for both sides to work together to decide which documents about the photo ticketing program should be handed over as part of the discovery process.

Under state law, "all actions for the violation of a municipal any ordinance" must be made by a summons or the issuance of an arrest warrant. A summons, if not delivered in person, is to by sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested. Granite City, however, has its own ordinance authorizing Verra Mobility to issue tickets on its behalf through regular first class mail from the Verra Mobility headquarters in Arizona -- with no guarantee that the ticket will ever reach its intended recipient. The municipal ordinance was written by Verra Mobility.

"The entire notice system is illegal and violates Illinois law... by failing to provide person service or certified mail service," Maag wrote in the complaint. "By requiring personal service or service by certified or registered mail, the legislature clearly did not intend the simple dispatch of a letter to be sufficient to achieve the goal of notice. Each legislatively authorized method of service contemplates that the delivery of the notice can be verified... No reasonable person could believe that the actions of the defendants is legal."

The lawsuit seeks a refund for every ticket issued in the last six years in Granite City, arguing that everyone who paid did so as a result of the fraudulent claim on the ticket that the process involved was lawful. As it commonly does, Verra Mobility responded by having the initial case transferred from a state court to a federal court where judges have proven more sympathetic to automated ticketing. Verra Mobility insisted that it has done nothing wrong because the state passed a law authorizing red light cameras with service "by mail." The company wants US District Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel to toss out the case entirely.

"Plaintiff's reliance on the general provisions of the Illinois Municipal Code rather than the specific statutory scheme under the Illinois Vehicle Code is fatal to both of plaintiff's alleged causes of action," Verra Mobility attorney Jon Santangelo argued.

The court has tentatively scheduled the case for trial on March 31, 2020.

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