April 24, 2012 5:41 PM
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Brooke Edwards Staggs, City Editor

VICTORVILLE • The class action lawsuit over Victorville’s red light cameras has been moved from state to federal court, with the city motioning to dismiss the case while a local attorney gears up for a potentially precedent-setting battle.

The venue change came at the request of Redflex Traffic Systems, the private company that operates 10 cameras in Victorville and is a codefendant in the case alongside the city.

In April 13 court documents requesting the switch, Redflex attorneys argue the case deals with a federal law, since the lawsuit claims Victorville’s red light camera system violates due process rights.

The camera company also argued a federal perspective is fitting since most of the plaintiffs in the class action suit are from the Victorville area while Redflex is based in Arizona and Delaware.

“It seems the city’s ties to Redflex are so strong that Redflex’s lawyers somehow got the city to waive their right to stay in state court,” Robert Conaway, the Barstow attorney representing Victorville resident Michael Curran and everyone who’s been cited by the cameras here, wrote in a statement on the switch. “Hopefully the move was not to escape scrutiny by citizens in the Victor Valley who are the victims of what Mr. Curran has alleged in an unfair and illegal agreement and business practice.”

The claim, which was filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court in February, states the camera system “violates the long standing legal rule that for an officer to cite a citizen for an infraction, it must be done ‘In the Presence’ of the officer.” And, since employees with Redflex are the ones first viewing the alleged violations, it states testimony from local deputies should be inadmissible as evidence.

Conaway is hoping to recover more than $9 million in damages on behalf of 4,300 people who’ve received tickets from Victorville’s red light cameras since they were installed in 2008. He also hopes to recover up to three times that amount in punitive damages from Redflex, or up to $28.5 million.

Fred Burnside, attorney for Redflex with Davis Wright Tremaine in Los Angeles, declined to discuss the active litigation.

Harvey Wimer III, the Riverside-based attorney with Graves & King who’s representing Victorville in the suit, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Victorville’s motion to dismiss the case is scheduled to be heard in U.S District Court on May 21.

Brooke Edwards Staggs may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.

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