Class action: Chicago should pay up for red-light camera tickets from 2003-2010, too, not just 2010-2015

By Jonathan Bilyk | Jan 30, 2019

Alex Ford from Raleigh, NC, USA [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Less than a year since Chicago City Hall inked a settlement to end a class action over defective red-light and speeding camera ticket notices sent from 2010-2015, a new class action has landed in Cook County court demanding the city be made to pay out for similar notices delivered to others who got red light camera tickets in earlier years.

On Jan. 25, attorneys with the firm of Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP, of Chicago and Pennsylvania, filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of named plaintiff Fred Hampton and a potential class of hundreds of thousands of additional plaintiffs.

The lawsuit centers on allegations the city violated its own ordinance in failing to send a second notice of violation to people who were mailed tickets under Chicago’s automated traffic enforcement program. The notices were to be mailed to give those receiving tickets sufficient chance to contest them before the city began assessing additional fees and fines for the unpaid tickets.

Failure to issue the second notice should render any of those tickets “null and void.”

“The City … issued first notices of violation that misrepresented to Plaintiff and Class members that they had only 14 days to contest a violation or would forfeit their right to do so, contrary to” the city ordinance establishing the automated enforcement program, the lawsuit said.

“The City’s misconduct likely coerced thousands of Class members to pay a fine they were not yet required to pay.”

The claims on which Hampton’s lawsuit are based substantially mirror those in a  2015 class action filed by attorneys from the firm of Myron M. Cherry & Associates, on behalf of named plaintiff Delyn McKenzie-Lopez and others.

Ultimately, the city and the McKenzie-Lopez plaintiffs agreed to settle that lawsuit in February 2018 for $38 million. The settlement provided an average of $58 in refunds for class members. The city paid $11 million to the Cherry & Associates lawyers under the deal.

However, the settlement only included those who received automated tickets from 2010-2015.

In the new lawsuit, Hampton’s lawyers assert the five-year limit on the claims should not be binding on their new class action at all.

They noted the city on multiple occasions, both in Cook County Circuit Court and on appeal, argued the class action claims should be limited by law to the five-year span. Each time, Hampton’s lawyers said, those arguments were turned aside by the courts.

“Despite having secured certification of a class of all persons to whom the City issued void determinations of liability following the ATL (automated traffic law enforcement) program enactment in 2003 – and the (Illinois First District Appellate Court) denying the City’s petition for leave to appeal that ruling on statute of limitation grounds – the McKenzie-Lopez plaintiffs perplexingly agreed to settle the action on behalf of only those individuals against whom the City entered an administrative judgment arising from an alleged ATL or ASE violation between (2010-2015),” the complaint said.

They asserted this should mean the settlement did nothing to end the claims brought by Hampton and others who received red-light camera and speed camera tickets in Chicago from 2003-2010.

 The complaint does not estimate how many people might be included in the class action. However, in the McKenzie-Lopez case, plaintiffs estimated nearly 450,000 people received red-light camera tickets from 2010-2015 alone.

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Organizations in this Story

Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP Circuit Court of Cook County City of Chicago Illinois First District Appellate Court Myron M. Cherry and Associates, LLC

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