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Monday, February 16, 2009

Arnold Lawsuit Challenging Red-Light Cameras Moves On Without Original Plaintiffs

Posted By on Mon, Feb 16, 2009 at 5:08 PM

click to enlarge DEREK JENSEN
  • Derek Jensen
Opponents of red-light cameras are celebrating a ruling earlier this month in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri.

In a broad-ranging order handed down February 3, Judge Thomas C. Mummert III denied defendant American Traffic Solutions' (ATS) motion to dismiss the RICO claims filed against it on behalf of several Missouri residents.

Arizona-based ATS operates red-light cameras in Arnold, St. Louis and several other municipalities in Missouri. Last year Fenton residents James and Kara Hoekstra sued ATS and Arnold in federal court alleging that the ticketing process violated their civil rights and attempted to collect fines through fraud and extortion. The couple sought punitive and actual damages from ATS, the city and the police department.

In Mummert's February 3 ruling, the judge dismissed the Hoekstras from the case after finding that the couple did not suffer monetary damages from the ticket. (Arnold dropped its charges against the Hoekstras when they vowed to fight the red-light citation.)

However, the judge allowed new plaintiffs Timothy Kilper, Christine Schorr and Ran Service Co. to continue their RICO suits against ATS and Arnold police chief Robert Shockey. In the same ruling Judge Mummert granted a motion dismissing city council members from personally paying any punitive damages in the civil rights and RICO claims.

No trial date has yet been scheduled for the lawsuit.

Arnold City Council member Matthew Hay, an opponent of red-light cameras and a founder of "Don't Tread on Me!" a political action committee pushing to ban the cameras, called the ruling a victory.

"If you read between the lines, we're very happy with the decision," says Hay. "The city was in no way vindicated."

In related news, "Don't Tread on Me!" recently submitted nearly 1,000 signatures from Arnold residents asking to put the cameras to a vote by the people. Hay says the group is hoping that the measure will be put on the ballot in November. 

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