Lawsuit Filed Over Red-Light Camera Tickets

Cameras Turned Off Permanently On Aug. 24

HOUSTON - A class-action lawsuit has been filed to throw out thousands of red-light camera tickets issued after Houstonians voted to turn them off.

On Nov. 2, 2010, 53 percent of Houstonians voted to halt the red-light camera system, so the cameras were switched off.

In June, federal Judge Lynn Hughes ruled the election invalid and said the proposition violated the city charter. Houston City Council adopted an ordinance initiating the use of red-light cameras in 2004, but it was not challenged until 2010.

The cameras were turned back on temporarily in July.

On Aug. 24, City Council approved a nonbinding resolution to turn the cameras off permanently and canceled the program's contract. Council members also voted to repeal the ordinance that allowed the red-light camera program.

Civil Rights attorney Randy Kallinen filed a federal class-action lawsuit to have thousands of tickets issued after the November election nullified.

"What we're asking for is that the city nullify all of their red-light camera tickets that occurred after the election. And that the people -- if they have paid, be reimbursed," Kallinen said.

"This is a frivolous lawsuit and I am confident it will be dismissed. In keeping with the will of the voters, the cameras have been permanently turned off. However, whether it is by a police officer or captured by another mechanism, the city has the authority and legal responsibility to enforce red light violations and collect the fines from those violations. It is irresponsible to argue otherwise," City Attorney Dave Feldman said.

The city is still working to resolve the issue of its outstanding contract with American Traffic Solutions. The contract was to run through 2013.

Seventy cameras started going up in 2006. More than 800,000 tickets had been issued, resulting in more than $44 million in fines.

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