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.
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
No trial date has yet been scheduled for the lawsuit.
Arnold City Council member Matthew Hay
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."
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.