JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of people who got tickets when their vehicles were photographed running red lights in Missouri could be in line to get some money back, under a proposed legal settlement announced Friday.
Attorneys for ticketed drivers and camera supplier American Traffic Solutions said they have agreed to a deal that would end several class-action lawsuits challenging the legality of city ordinances authorizing the traffic-light cameras.
A plaintiffs’ attorney and company official both confirmed that the proposed settlement calls for 20 percent refunds to be paid on up to 800,000 tickets issued since 2005 in 27 Missouri cities served by ATS cameras. Nearly 500,000 of those tickets are in St. Louis City. At an average ticket of $100, the settlement could amount to as much as $16 million. Each driver stands to get $20 back from American Traffic Solutions.
American Traffic Solutions, based in Tempe, Arizona, provides traffic light cameras in St. Louis and Kansas City and several of their suburbs, as well as in St. Joseph and Washington, Missouri.
"It's one of hte few [lawsuits] in the United States that has gone this far and obatined this type of resolutions," said Russ Walters, one of the two attorneys for the case. Any driver caught by an ATS camera will be elligible for a refund and will be notified by mail.
The lawsuits contend some of the city ordinances violate constitutional due process rights by requiring the accused to prove their innocence instead of the government to prove their guilt; conflict with state law by holding vehicle owners instead of drivers liable for red-light violations; or were enacted improperly for the purpose of generating revenue instead of public safety.
The proposed settlement would resolve all of those claims without any admission of wrongdoing by the cities or American Traffic Solutions.
“This settlement will allow us and our customers to put these issues in the rear view mirror,” ATS General Counsel George Hittner said in written statement.
Attorneys Ryan Keane and Russ Watters, of St. Louis, brought the lawsuits on behalf of ticketed vehicle owners. They said in a joint statement that the offer of a partial refund “is fair, adequate and reasonable,” especially in light of prior court rulings that have limited the ability to recover fines that already have been paid.
The St. Louis suburbs covered by the proposed settlement include Arnold, Bellerive Acres, Bel-Nor, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Calverton Park, Clayton, County Club Hills, Creve Coeur, Dellwod, Ellisville, Ferguson, Florissant, Hazelwood, Moline Acres, Northwoods, Richmond Heights, St. Ann and St. John.