Federal Court Upholds Illegal Traffic Camera Evidence
A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that municipalities in most states may use evidence illegally collected by photo enforcement cameras. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit made its decision in the case of Stephen Bell who sued both American Traffic Solutions (ATS), an Arizona-based red light camera operator, and Redflex Traffic Solutions of Australia for violating Texas statutes requiring companies involved in private investigation to obtain a license. The three-judge appellate panel determined that there was no problem with companies offering unlawfully obtained evidence in civil court cases.
Report Warns Of Private Car Repo Dangers
Private companies that repossess automobiles without the involvement of law enforcement are creating potentially deadly situations, a report released Thursday by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) warned. The Boston, Massachusetts-based non-profit legal advocacy group examined the consequences of turning car seizures over to private firms, particularly during the recent economic downturn.
AP: Toyota Suits Could Top $3b
Thanks to the “optics” (if not the reality) of the latest Toyota sudden unintended acceleration scare, the story has new legs just as Toyota and Exponent were hoping to cut them off. But as much as dramatic, cop-calms-killer-Prius headlines keep the Great Toyota Panic alive, so to does the fact that the 89-odd class-action lawsuits filed against Toyota could be worth over $3b to plaintiffs and their counsel. And that’s not counting any of the incidents in which people were actually injured or killed (which are actually relatively rare). No, that $3b+ is going to the truly deserving… and their lawyers.
Missouri Supreme Court Strikes Down Red Light Cameras
The supreme court of Missouri sent photo enforcement companies scrambling on Monday after it declared the red light camera administrative hearing process in the city of Springfield to be void. The high court moved with unusual speed, handing down a strongly worded, unanimous decision about one month after hearing oral arguments in the case.
“This is a $100 case,” Judge Michael A. Wolff wrote for the court. “But sometimes, it’s not the money — it’s the principle.”
Who's Suing Hyundai For This Ad?
Think you have it figured out? Hit the jump for the answer…
Photo Enforcement Industry Launches All Out Florida Campaign
The industries that profit from photo enforcement are scrambling to convince Florida lawmakers to adopt legislation that will forgive municipalities for installing red light cameras contrary to existing state law. A circuit court judge last week ruled that red light cameras were illegal in the state, following the legal argument presented in a 2005 attorney general opinion. On the day the decision was handed down, an insurance and camera company-backed front group headed by Melissa Wandall, the widow of an accident victim, released new polling data intended to jump-start the legislative effort.
Georgia: "Slowpoke Bill" Moves Forward
We try to cover a lot of the stories in which politics and automobiles intersect, and frankly, most of them are just plain depressing. From biofuel frauds to speed cameras, it seems that motorists as a political class tend to be reactive rather than proactive. Not so in Georgia, where 11Alive reports that a bill is moving through the state legislature that would establish a minimum fine for driving to slow in the passing lane. If there’s a cause that every driver can get behind, this is it. In case you don’t appreciate the depth of annoyance most feel about left-lane bandits, Georgia State Rep. Mark Butler is on hand to explain:
Toyota Lawsuits Breaking Out All Over
As we fumble towards a more complete understanding of Toyota’s stunning fall from grace, we’ve only uncovered a single class of people who truly stand to benefit from the last several weeks of hysteria: the lawyers, of course. Thanks to Toyota’s deep reserves of cash, every single possible damage incurred in the last several weeks will be picked over for an opportunity to sue the world’s largest automaker, and already the suits have crossed over into the realm of the absurd. Automotive News [sub] reports on latest class-action suit charge against Toyota, which seeks damages from the automaker for diminished resale value and lost use of recalled vehicles. These charges have been filed as class-action suits in “at least 30 states,” and lawyers suggest that the damages could run as high as $2b. Ford paid Explorer owners $500 a piece when it settled similar class-action suits in the wake of its Firestone safety scandal.
Toyota Class-Action Lawsuits "A Little Cottage Industry Of Its Own"
The legal angle to the Toyota recall story has been a source of constant amusement, from an early attempt to prevent Toyota from enacting its gas pedal fix, to news today [via Reuters] that at least 30 class-action suits have been filed since the recall began. “This is going to a little cottage industry all of its own,” says Matt Cairns of DRI, the Voice of the Defense Bar, the largest U.S. civil defense attorney association.
Missouri: Legislation Would Expand Use of Speed Cameras
A group of nine Missouri lawmakers are looking to expand the use of speed cameras throughout the state. State House members, led by Representative Michael Corcoran (D-St. Ann), on Tuesday introduced House Bill 1947 which appears on its surface to ban the use of speed cameras when, in fact, it authorizes their use.
IIHS: Hand-Held Cell Phone Bans Don't Work
The Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institutes For Highway Safety, reports that an audit of insurance claim filings shows no reduction in claim amounts in states with bans on cell phone use in cars. According to the report:
HLDI researchers calculated monthly collision claims per 100 insured vehicle years (a vehicle year is 1 car insured for 1 year, 2 insured for 6 months each, etc.) for vehicles up to 3 years old during the months immediately before and after hand-held phone use was banned while driving in New York (Nov. 2001), the District of Columbia (July 2004), Connecticut (Oct. 2005), and California (July 2008). Comparable data were collected for nearby jurisdictions without such bans. This method controlled for possible changes in collision claim rates unrelated to the bans — changes in the number of miles driven due to the economy, seasonal changes in driving patterns, etc.
Month-to-month fluctuations in rates of collision claims in jurisdictions with bans didn’t change from before to after the laws were enacted. Nor did the patterns change in comparison with trends in jurisdictions that didn’t have such laws.
South Dakota, Tennessee Consider Traffic Camera Bans
A number of states are considering legislation that would outlaw the use of photo enforcement. Last year alone, Maine, Mississippi and Montana added themselves to the list of fifteen states where red light cameras and speed cameras are no longer welcome. On Thursday, the South Dakota House Transportation Committee will consider legislation introduced by state Representative Peggy Gibson (D-Huron) to make her state the sixteenth.
Chrysler Suing Four States For Dealer Protections
Here’s a question: You want to do something, but it’s against the law, what do you do? Abandon the idea? No, if you’re Chrysler you sue the government. Detroit News reports that Chrysler LLC are suing officials from Oregon, Maine, North Carolina and Illnois for laws which “unduly burden New Chrysler with the obligation to provide the rejected dealers with rights that this court determined that the rejected dealers do not have,” as lawyers for Chrysler wrote.