Class notices sent to motorists who paid red light camera fines

A Jefferson Parish District Court judge has ruled that all lawsuits brought against an Arizona company that runs the Parish's red light cameras will proceed as one class action. Twenty Fourth Judicial District Court Judge Robert Pitre issued the ruling last week and ordered that notifications be sent out to all motorists who have paid a red light camera fine in the past. The order consolidates a number of lawsuits brought by motorists against Redflex Traffic Systems, which owns, operates and issues fines with the cameras in Jefferson Parish. Jefferson Parish began using the cameras in 2007 but stopped them in 2010 after questions arose as to the nature of Redflex's contract with the parish. Metairie attorney Joseph McMahon III was one of the motorists who filed a suit against Redflex. McMahon is also challenging the red light cameras in Orleans Parish and in Lafayette, La. In 2010, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said McMahon and his lawyer, Anthony Maska, failed to show that Jefferson Parish's system is unconstitutional. Maska and McMahon took their case back to the state court and it has been consolidated with the other cases. In both Orleans and Jefferson Parish, the red light cameras have generated millions in revenue for government projects. Jefferson Parish is holding some $20 million in escrow until the court cases are settled. Notices were sent out to all motorists who paid $110 fines for running a red light at an intersection with a traffic camera, regardless of whether they've filed a legal complaint. Tickets for running a red light in Orleans Parish 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. In November 2010, the New Orleans City Council voted 6-1 to move oversight of the city's red light and traffic cameras to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) from the Public Works Department (PWD). The measure came as a response to the Louisiana Supreme Court's ruling that it was against the city charter for the PWD to administer traffic infractions. The city council said that the provision is retroactive and all previously issued tickets must be paid, with anyone who's already paid fines having now right to recover the funds.

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