Barstow-based attorney Robert Conaway has taken several key steps toward filing a class action lawsuit against the city of Victorville and Australia-based Redflex Traffic Systems to recover over $9 million in actual damages on behalf of 4,300 people who’ve received tickets from Victorville’s red light camera system.
Conaway delivered a claim to the city and Redflex on December 9 informing both parties that he intends to proceed with a class action suit if the city and the company do not alter the fashion in which red light camera tickets are issued. In a December 23 letter he calculated the damages in the claim, stating that based on numbers through the end of November 2011 the alleged victims of the illegally-run red light camera ticketing system were due $2,457,135.49 in restitution damages, $6,000,300 in estimated damages for higher insurance premiums paid, $215,000 in legal fees, and $860,000 in lost wages for those required to attend arraignments and/or trials
Conaway said the $2,457,135.49 represented the amount of fines paid by those wrongfully ticketed by the Redflex system in Victorville and that the $6,000,300 in higher insurance premiums was based on a calculus of $1,500 per policyholder for three years times the 4,300 people issued tickets and who were forced to pay. He said the $215,000 in legal fees was derived by typical charges made by lawyers on red light ticket cases times ten percent of those issued tickets. The figure of $860,000 in lost consumer wages was based on a formula of an average of $200 per day in wages times 4,300.
He said the claim was made against the city and Redflex due to the conduct by both parties that was and is “unfair, unlawful, fraudulent and deceptive.”
Conaway said that he would also seek from the city “any additional award the court may permit in the way of a penalty per violation in its discretion” if the case is taken to trial. Moreover, Conaway said, if the matter is not settled prior to trial “as to Redflex, lead plaintiff Michael Curran and the class will seek punitive damages in the amount of three times the alleged actual damages based on the above figures, $28,597,000.”
Conaway said he anticipates both parties will reject the claim.
Conaway maintains the use of cameras to issue tickets is unconstitutional and illegal because those ticketed are not allowed to confront their accuser and that there is a conflict of interest in allowing Redflex, which has a financial interest in seeing alleged red light runners convicted, to collect, analyze, process and store the evidence used against those cited.
According to Conawy, “The declarations that appear in the citations sent to consumers as part of the Redflex-Victorville red light automated traffic enforcement system, are subscribed under ‘information and belief’“ which (1) under People v. Oppel (1990) 222 Cal.App.3d 1146, 1153] is unlawful, (2) is deceptive and misleading under Business & Profession Code 17200 et seq and finally (3) violates defendants’ rights under 42 USC 1983. ‘An affidavit based on “information and belief” is hearsay and must be disregarded, and it is “unavailing for any purpose” whatsoever,’” Conaway wrote in his letter of December 23. “Matters alleged on ‘information and belief’ do ‘not serve to establish the facts … because an affidavit which is to be used as evidence must be positive, direct and not based upon hearsay.’ A ruling ‘of the court is to be based upon acts which may be presented to it, and not upon the belief of the affiant.’ Such allegations on ‘information and belief’ furnish… ‘no proof of the facts stated ….’”
As of press time this week, Conaway had not received a response from the city or the company. He vowed to file the class action suit by January 27 if the city and Redflex do not take action to stop issuing tickets based solely upon the images caught on camera as analyzed by Redflex personnel and instead utilize San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies, who are contracted to provide law and traffic enforcement in Victorville, to monitor the live video feed and issue tickets in real time.
Victorville maintains the red light cameras are a legitimate traffic law enforcement tool.
In a corporate statement, Redflex said “There’s no good excuse for running red lights.”