The city of Victorville faces a potential $9 million class action lawsuit unless it changes the way it uses red-light cameras. The people who want to sue also targeted the company that installed the camera system.
Barstow attorney Bob Conaway wants to file the lawsuit on behalf of more than 4,000 people who received and paid tickets issued by Victorville’s red-light camera system. Each fine cost about $490. Conaway says he’ll back off if the city dumps the camera system, or revises the way it’s operated.
“Cease the data gathering and ticket citations being issued," he demanded. "There should be an actual live body observing the date feed from these machines. Cops to verify the data as it's coming in. That would be the way to keep the machines in and to make it not violate due process and the California rules of evidence."
Conaway says the cameras, operated by Phoenix-based Redflex Camera Systems, violate civil rights because they don’t give ticketed motorists the opportunity to confront their accuser. The lawyer also says it’s not right that the city allows a for-profit company to process evidence that law enforcement personnel should handle.
“That’s the remarkable thing, the decision making on which tickets to issue is made by Redflex," explained Conaway. "They have a machine-generated signature on the ticket from an officer that says, 'I know this to be true on information and belief.'”
The lawsuit Conaway may file next month would seek to recover more than $2 million in fines red-light runners have already paid, $6 million for insurance premium hikes and another million dollars in legal fees and lost wages.
A spokesman for Redflex says the company is confident that the case has no merit. He would not say whether its attorneys had reviewed the claim.
Last year, the Victorville City Council split on whether to terminate its contract with Redflex over some of the same issues raised in the complaint.