Desperate Photo Enforcement Firms Sue Cities

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
desperate photo enforcement firms sue cities

Companies that operate red light cameras and speed cameras are facing increasing opposition across the country. In response, the firms have adopted a strategy of suing cities that have second thoughts about continuing to use cameras in their community. They have also been going after their own customers to collect as much revenue as possible.

On December 1, Redflex filed suit against Tempe, Arizona in Maricopa county Superior Court claiming the city owed $1.3 million in per-ticket fees for each driver mailed a photo ticket who decided to go to traffic school. The city claims it only collected $1.8 million in revenue from the program, mostly because last year’s payment rate was just 31 percent. Drivers realize in increasing numbers that tickets in the state can be ignored unless they are properly served.

City officials reacted angrily to the Redflex move. On July 19, the photo ticketing operation was shutdown after a 4-3 city council vote earlier that month refused to renew the contract with Redflex. The company explained its hardball tactics in a February 25 report to shareholders on the Australian Securities Exchange.

“As a result of the macro economic challenges facing the US market throughout 2010, and the current politically challenging times, new contract executions have declined,” the Redflex report stated. “This financial year, Redflex has focused its efforts on strengthening its business model through tighter contract language, (and) more aggressive collection efforts in key markets.”

The main competitor to Redflex, American Traffic Solutions (ATS), has likewise been feeling the marketplace squeeze. Most recently, Los Angeles, California just terminated its red light camera program, costing the company millions. ATS lashed out at San Bernardino after its city council voted unanimously in March to cancel its photo ticketing contract with ATS before the 2014 expiration date. In an April letter, Police Chief Keith L. Kilmer offered to pay ATS CEO James Tuton $175,000 in accordance with Section 4.4 of the contract governing cancellation fees. ATS insisted that it will not allow San Bernardino to get out of the contract.

“The termination/cancellation fee is inapplicable here because Section 4.4 specifically provides for a termination and cancellation fee only ‘in the event of termination due to a breach by the municipality,'” ATS attorney Vanessa Soriano Power wrote in a May 4 letter to the city. “Thus, Section 4.4 applies only where ATS elects to terminate the agreement.”

ATS insists that San Bernardino must pay $1,896,202.05 to end photo ticketing.


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4 of 16 comments
  • Fincar1 Fincar1 on Aug 05, 2011

    It continually surprises me that I don't hear of more incidents of vandalism against these cameras.

    • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Aug 05, 2011

      Me too, because it is so easy. Around here, the equipment is from ATS and they use a soft aluminum housing for the equipment and it is at shoulder level. A cordless drill with a "Christmas Tree" bit can quickly make a hole. A small funnel and a container of muriatic acid bought at any True Value will quickly render the system inoperative. Or the power line that enters the box usually has a LB or Jake type of fitting. Just remove a screw and you can slide the cover out of the way and expose the wires. Take a pair of dykes and cut away. Don't worry about'll short it to ground or neutral and that't that...screw 'em. If they don't play fair, why should we...

  • PintoFan PintoFan on Aug 05, 2011

    Contract fraud is contract fraud, regardless of how much you dislike the contractor or his motives. I don't really have a lot of sympathy for these cities that opened up contracts with ATS or Redflex and are now trying to weasel their way out of them because of popular pressure. They should have considered the political implications of such action before they put their names on the dotted line. What is happening now is in many cases blatant breach of contract, and like it or not ATS and Redflex are both well within their rights to sue for damages. I would rather see the law upheld than contract rights violated just so people can be more careless at intersections. Color me skeptical about all these anti-camera lobbyists who claim to be acting in the interests of democracy and the rule of law, and then turn around and demand that said laws be violated so that their agendas can be upheld.

    • Fvfvsix Fvfvsix on Aug 06, 2011

      Sure, they can sue.. But they can't win. Tempe legally let its contract expire because there is no profit to be made with traffic cameras under Arizona law. Redflex pulled a Hugo Chavez when they tried to force Tempe to serve all its unpaid ticket violators in person (the only way they can legally collect around here) and failed miserably for obvious reasons. There was no ambiguity in the laws when Redflex started selling their snake oil- they simply thought they would be able to lobby (then Gov) Janet Napolitano to make the environment more conducive to the rape of AZ taxpayers. Go out of business Redflex. Do it soon.

  • MaintenanceCosts This class of car competes hard with Chargers/Challengers and modded diesel pickups for the douchey-driving crown.
  • 28-Cars-Later Corey - I think I am going to issue a fatwa demanding a cool kids car meetup in July somewhere in the Ohio region.
  • Master Baiter Might as well light 50 $100 bills on fire.
  • Mike1041 At $300K per copy they may secure as much as 2 or 3 deposits of $1,000
  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!