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Ohio Appeals Court Restores Class Action Against Speed Cameras
Court of Appeals restores class action lawsuit against the admittedly illegal use of speed cameras in Cleveland, Ohio.

Frank D. Celebrezze
A motorist who sued Cleveland, Ohio, over the unlawful use of privately operated speed cameras is finally going to have her day in court. The state Court of Appeals on Thursday restored Allyson Eighmey's class action lawsuit, allowing it finally to be tested on the merits in a courtroom after nearly seven years battling with the city over minor procedural points that were ultimately decided in Eighmey's favor by the state Supreme Court.

Eighmey originally made a simple argument: Cleveland's speed camera ordinance requires the use of signs to notify motorists in locations where the automated ticketing machines are in use. Cleveland's for-profit vendor Xerox was mailing out tickets in 2013 to the owners of vehicles photographed by cameras stationed in unmarked vans.

Several months after Eighmey filed the suit, 78 percent of Cleveland voters passed a ballot measure outlawing both speed cameras and red light cameras. Nonetheless, the city has thrown every possible legal obstacle against the suit to avoid having to send refunds to the 36,179 motorists who were ticketed in violation of the law. Cleveland almost succeeded, having the state Court of Appeals toss the case in 2017 on technical grounds (view ruling). The high court, however, vacated the ruling. Suitably chastened, the three-judge appellate panel on Thursday overturned the trial court's ruling in Cleveland's favor.

"The trial court erred in concluding that Eighmey lacked standing to assert her unjust enrichment claim against Cleveland," Judge Frank D. Celebrezze Jr wrote for the three-judge panel. "Because Eighmey paid a penalty for a ticket that was invalidly issued, she has standing to assert her unjust enrichment claim against Cleveland."

The city will have a hard time beating the case on the merits, because it has already conceded the main point of contention.

"Cleveland does not dispute that the mobile speed units failed to comply with Cleveland Codified Ordinances 413.031," Judge Celebrezze wrote. "Eighmey sufficiently demonstrated the existence of genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the tickets were valid based on Cleveland's failure to comply with Cleveland Codified Ordinances 413.031."

A copy of the ruling is available in a 200k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Eighmey v. Cleveland (Court of Appeals, State of Ohio, 4/16/2020)

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