By on July 19, 2011

Drivers often get the run around when dealing with the traffic ticket bureaucracy. When fighting city hall, individuals usually have no little hope of prevailing. Motorist Harry A. Church realized that with red light cameras, the system was outsourced from city hall to a company that could be more easily sued. After being double-billed by the Australian red light camera company Redflex Traffic Systems, Church filed a lawsuit that has been taken up by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

On November 16, 2009, Church received a notice in the mail from Redflex claiming his car had run a red light in the town of Jonesborough. On the same day, Church mailed payment of the $88.75 fine. Redflex which cashed the check. On March 13, 2010, Redflex sent a second notice insisting that Church pay again or be reported to a collection agency. Church states he faced “coarse and abrupt opposition and accusation” when he called the company to resolve the situation. The next day, a Redflex employee told Church he was to be reported to a credit bureau for non-payment.

Church sent Redflex an invoice billing the company $120 for two hours of his time wasted on the company’s mistake. The firm ignored the notice. Church then secured the services of an attorney who filed the suit alleging double-billing is a common problem in Jonesborough because of the reckless conduct of Redflex. Church is asking for $3000 in compensatory relief plus punitive damages of $1 million.

In a brief filed July 7, Redflex asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The firm argued that Church failed to prove negligence on the part of the company because Redflex has no duty to get things right.

“Redflex is entitled to dismissal because no facts are alleged which establish a special relationship or otherwise demonstrate a duty of care as between Redflex and plaintiff,” Redflex attorney Michael S. Kelley wrote. “The sole contact between plaintiff and Redflex occurred when he contacted the company after receiving a dunning letter which was apparently an error. As a matter of law, this tenuous connection is insufficient to establish a duty of care on behalf of Redflex.”

Redflex also argued that there was no basis for the extravagant $1 million damage claim and that the company may not even be at fault.

“There is not and cannot be a good faith claim that the company engaged in some type of fraudulent conduct, attempting to get double payment for one violation,” Kelley wrote. “There are no facts alleged which establish that this ongoing problem was caused by Redflex, as opposed to the town or the bank where the town’s funds are held.”


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11 Comments on “Tennessee: Man Sues Traffic Camera Company Over Double Billing...”

  • avatar

    If it were up to me I’d give him a billion dollars. This camera situation is absurd!!!

    I’m sure that the founding fathers are rolling over in their grave.

  • avatar

    No duty to get things right? Don’t we expect a little better than that from a company acting as an extension of law enforcement?

  • avatar

    Red light camera tickets are an infraction of either civil or criminal law, depending on the state. It is utterly absurd of Redflex to claim they do not have an absolute duty to get ALL the facts correct. These are expensive violations and precise bookkeeping is a requirement of ethical operations.
    But NO ONE should be surprised. Redflex is not and never has been an ethical company with their red light camera operations. A high percentage of violations are caused by yellow light intervals that are deliberately set too short for the ACTUAL 85th percentile approach speeds of free flowing traffic under good conditions — the procedure that reduces traffic light crash risks to a minimum.
    The science is on our website. Perhaps you will join us to help rid the entire country of predatory red light cameras that are just a cynical means to make money with improper engineering and/or unethical traffic management policies – many of which raise the overall crash risks.
    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association,, Ann Arbor, MI

  • avatar
    gator marco

    Of course Redflex has no duty to get things right. Their contract is with a government entity, not with individual citizens.
    If too many citizens are getting double billed or sent incorrectly to collections, that is something the city should pursue at contract time. As long as the money is rolling in, the city could care lass that it is screwing its citizens.

    As a practical matter, Redflex has outsourced all their customer service to third parties, so there is no way for citizens to know who they are talking to when they call for assistance. That is a common corporate model: set up your customer service as cheaply and poorly as possible, because it is a loss center.

    Redflex has zero concern to treat citizens fairly or correctly. The citizen is a captive customer. Now a third party collections agency may not be happy with Redflex sending a bunch of collections that have already been paid, because the collection agency will get zero dollars for cleaning up after Redflex.

    Beware citizens – as more and more government functions are outsourced to private companies, you are going to get worse customer service than your local DMV. If that is possible.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s funny because I renewed my license a couple of weeks ago and got very fast, very courteous service. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes and the lady I dealt with was really nice and friendly.

    • 0 avatar

      gator – “beware citizens – as more and more government functions are outsourced to private companies, you are going to get worse customer service”

      That is EXACTLY correct, except the crappy customer service is only the beginning an least harmful part of that equation.

      Less government DOES NOT EQUAL less governance.

      The difference is that on one hand, the governing body must answer to the citizenry (via voting/representative democracy/referendum/etc and on the other hand the governing body must answer to making a profit. Which way do you think has more potential for abuse and general misery?

  • avatar

    Silly peasant thinks his overlords need to be right. Shut up and pay.

    The state needs their (your) money. Why let something as trivial as facts or the truth get in the way?

  • avatar

    Welcome to the world of privatization.

    • 0 avatar

      Ain’t that the truth. Contracting out has its place, but way too many people think that privatization is an automatic improvement and the most efficient way to provide government services. Often, when given the chance to prove themselves, municipal operations often exceed the quality of services outside companies provide.

      • 0 avatar

        When law enforcement becomes a profit center, you can bet that somebody will try to earn those profits, and to get more of them.

        We should never, ever allow ourselves to be in a position when the government can profit from criminal behavior. If crime pays, they’ll be sure to create it.

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