January 03, 2012 1:50 PM
Brooke Edwards Staggs, City Editor
VICTORVILLE • An attorney is seeking to recover more than $9 million in damages on behalf of 4,300 people who’ve received tickets from Victorville’s red light cameras, claiming the system is “unfair, unlawful, fraudulent and deceptive.”
Robert Conaway, a criminal defense attorney from Barstow, sent notice in early December to the city of Victorville and Redflex Traffic Systems that he intends to file a class action lawsuit unless changes are made with the way red light cameras are handled here. He updated that notice in late December, tacking on the calculated damages.
Conaway is seeking to recover more than $2 million for each of the $490 fines paid by convicted residents, $6 million for resulting higher insurance premiums, $215,000 for legal fees paid by those who tried to fight the tickets and $860,000 to cover lost wages for those forced to miss work to attend arraignments or trials.
Along with actual damages, Conaway states he hopes to recover up to three times that amount in punitive damages from Redflex, or up to $28.5 million.
The thrust of Conaway’s argument against the cameras is that they violate civil rights because the accused don’t have the opportunity to confront their accuser, with a private, for-profit company in charge of first processing the evidence against alleged red light runners.
Conaway said he hasn’t heard any response back from either the city or Redflex since he sent his initial claim dated Dec. 9. If the two parties don’t agree within 30 days from receiving that notice to stop issuing tickets or assign San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies to watch the live video feed and issue tickets as the violations occur, Conaway said he intends to file the class action lawsuit.
A spokesman for Redflex and the city’s attorney have both previously said they don’t believe there are grounds for a lawsuit.
Victorville’s next City Council meeting — where the group can discuss the claim in closed session and potentially vote on whether to reject or agree to Conaway’s demands — is scheduled for Jan. 17
Brooke Edwards Staggs may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.
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