7/17/2019Ohio: Final Order Issued In Speed Camera Refund Case
Judge orders New Miami, Ohio to issue $3.5 million in speed camera ticket refunds over the next ten years.
The ink barely dried on an Ohio judge's final order directing a town to refund millions in speed camera tickets before an appeal was filed last week. The village of New Miami is desperate to avoid paying the $3.5 million judgment just ordered by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Michael A. Oster Jr after six years of litigation.
"The court issues a permanent injunction prohibiting the village from enforcement of the [speed camera] ordinance," Judge Oster ruled. "The village is further permanently enjoined from adopting or modifying a new automated speed enforcement program which violates the 'due course of law' guarantees of the Ohio constitution."
The court directed the cash-strapped municipality to pay $3,066,422 to ticketed motorists on a ten-year payment schedule. Each year, the village must pay installments of $349,007, plus three percent interest calculated from the date of the judgment. Over the course of the next decade, that adds up to $423,658 in interest.
The lawyers who won the case, Charles H. Rittgers and Michael K. Allen, will pocket one-third of the judgment -- $1,197,906 -- for spending six years on litigation without charging their clients in a case that has already seen elements reviewed by the Ohio Supreme Court. Last year, justices indicated their approval of Judge Oster's decision that declared New Miami's photo ticketing operations unlawful (view Supreme Court ruling).
Judge Oster had found that New Miami's automated ticketing ordinance deprived accused vehicle owners of their due process rights. Optotraffic, the for-profit company that ran all aspects of the program during the period covered by the class action suit, provided hearsay testimony to convict drivers who were left with no realistic option to defend themselves. In 2016, New Miami switched to a new vendor, Blue Line Solutions, which is not involved in the litigation.
The lawyers for the motorists are not happy with the ten-year payment plan. They are also hoping Judge Oster rejects an attempt to stop payment while the village files yet another appeal.
"The justice of this case compels the conclusion that a further delay before motorists who paid fines under a scheme this court declared unconstitutional over five years ago is certainly unwarranted," Rittgers and Allen wrote. "The continual and cynical delaying tactics by the village in this case... should not be rewarded."
A copy of the 700k final order is available in a PDF file at the source link below.