Missouri: Lawsuit Challenges Red Light Camera Legality, Astroturf

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

Lawyers for motorists in Missouri are looking to capitalize on recent discoveries regarding deceptive marketing campaigns orchestrated by red light camera companies. On Wednesday, The Simon Law Firm filed a class action lawsuit against American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and the city of Hazelwood seeking refunds for thousands of photo enforcement tickets issued without the sanction of state law.

“In bringing this class action, plaintiffs seek to expose what they and other Missouri citizens believe is an unscrupulous business venture between an out-of-state for-profit corporation and a municipal government seeking to fill city coffers,” attorneys Ryan A. Keane and John E. Campbell wrote.

The suit argues that ATS used Hazelwood Police Chief Carl Wolf to head Missouri Families for Safer Roads (MFSR), a front group created to enhance the revenue generation efforts of ATS.

“ATS recruited Chief Wolf to essentially market and promote ATS and red light cameras,” Keane and Campbell wrote. “Upon information and belief, Chief Wolf, as the president and sole corporate officer of MFSR and an unofficial ATS spokesman, has accepted gifts and other gratuities from ATS.”

The suit also mentions how Wolf appeared in commercials for the National Coalition of Safer Roads, which, like MFSR, has been exposed as entirely funded, operated and controlled by ATS. The suit argues that these groups helped deceive the public in an effort to conceal an illegal operation. Both the city and ATS were aware that their red light camera ordinance was void under state law.

“Simply put: if the goal of red light cameras is to enforce public safety, then drivers should be assessed points on their driver’s license just like other moving violations and like they would if pulled over by a police officer for running a red light,” Keane and Campbell wrote. “Instead, the city of Hazelwood has deliberately and unlawfully misclassified moving violations of red light signals as a ‘non-moving infraction’ for which ‘no points will be assessed’ against a driver’s license. There is no rational basis for defendant Hazelwood to circumvent a Missouri state law designed to keep dangerous drivers off the road.”

This line of reasoning has a great deal of legal support, including a 2005 memo from Stinson Morrison Hecker, ATS’s own law firm. The memo explained red light camera tickets in Missouri would not hold up in a court of law ( view full letter) because the state legislature has refused to authorize the use of automated ticketing. Cities cannot enact such ordinances on their own, a Missouri circuit court judge ruled in May ( view ruling). A March 2010 state supreme court ruling ( view opinion) struck down Springfield’s red light camera program over its administrative hearing procedures, while also noting that red light camera violations are moving violations.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

The Newspaper
The Newspaper

More by The Newspaper

Comments
Join the conversation
3 of 4 comments
  • Redav Redav on Sep 19, 2011

    With all the coverage RLCs get here, why are there no articles about camera enforcement of toll road use? They work exactly the same way and have been in service far longer. Where's the outrage?

  • CarPerson CarPerson on Sep 19, 2011

    The National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) is a particularly disingenuous, if not contemptuous, galling, and cynical name considering the ATS (and Redflex) business model is to illegally shorten the green and yellow lights then make a killing off drivers trapped with too little distance to stop safely and too little time to continue through the intersection safely. Oh well, let the trial lawyers feast on the municipalities back to the statute of limitations for drinking the ATS and Redflex Kool-Aid.

  • Wolfwagen What I never see when they talk about electric trucks is how much do these things weigh and how much does that detract from the cargo-carrying capacity?
  • Wolfwagen I dont know how good the Triton is but if they could get it over here around the $25K - $30K They would probably sell like hotcakes. Make a stripped down version for fleet sales would also help
  • 3SpeedAutomatic You mentioned that Mitsubishi cars had lost their character. Many brands are losing that that element as well. GM is giving up on the ICE Camaro and Dodge on the ICE Challenger. There goes the Bad Boy image. Might as well get your teeth pulled and dentures put in place. Would like to see a few EVOs with cherry bomb exhaust and true 4 cylinder BIG blower turbos; 4 wheel drift capacity is mandatory!!🚗🚗🚗
  • Tassos Here in my overseas summer palace, I filled up my tank twice in May, at 68 and 52 euros (a full 90+ liter tank fillup has taken 130-135 Euros in the past, and I am 23 miles from downtown here, while only 1-2 miles in the US)Still, diesel here is MUCH cheaper than gas. Yesterday, I paid 1,488 a liter while gas was at least 1,899 (regular).Multiply by almost 4 for gallons AND by an additional 1.1 for $.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic IIRC, both China and the EU use a standardized charger connection. About time the US & Canada to follow.Would take some of the anxiety out of an EU purchase and accelerate adoption. 🚗🚗🚗
Next