Class certification hearing set in suit over traffic cameras

Alejandro de los Rios Jan. 4, 2011, 2:00pm

Orleans Parish Judge Rosemary Ledet will hear arguments Jan. 14 from plaintiff and defense attorneys as to whether to certify a class in a suit against New Orleans traffic cameras.

Michele Albe is suing New Orleans and American Traffic Solutions Inc. (ATS) over a speeding ticket issued to her after her vehicle was caught driving over the speed limit by a city traffic camera in 2008.

Michele Albe's husband, New Orleans attorney Joseph Albe, filed a petition for judicial review after the couple unsuccessfully challenged the ticket in traffic court. The petition argues that the camera does not identify who the driver of the car was and the couple has subsequently argued that either one of them could have been driving at the time.

The plaintiffs are seeking class certification for everyone who's been ticketed with ATS cameras. Plaintiffs are seeking to assign a temporary steering committee as well as seeking certification.

The defendants claim that "plaintiffs cannot establish the requisite grounds to maintain these proceedings as a class action under Louisiana law." Defense also claims that the plaintiffs have unnecessarily sought extensions "for a 'class' that does not exist and a 'class' that should not be certified."

This is the third case in Orleans Parish that is challenging the constitutionality of the city's traffic cameras and the second to seek class certification. New Orleans attorney Ed Washington III filed a petition for injunction which was granted by Orleans Parish Judge Paulette Irons in October.

Irons' ruling prohibited the city from collecting revenue from the traffic cameras because it violated city charter. Though the ruling was upheld on appeal, Irons rescinded the injunction in November after City Council voted 6-1 to amend the charter to make the cameras legal.

Metairie lawyer Joseph McMahon III also filed a class action against the city's use of red light cameras, a case which is currently working its way through Orleans Parish Judge Kern Reese' court.

Tickets for running a red light cost $145 while speeding tickets can range from $80 to $240. The Times-Picayune reported that the city has collected $9.4 million in revenues from the tickets and a proposed 2011 budget projects $18 million in revenue next year.

The Albes unsuccessfully moved for Ledet to recuse herself after she announced that she, too, had been given a speeding ticket from a traffic camera.

Orleans Parish Case 2008-12542

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