Springfield case seeking red-light fine reimbursement dismissed

Saturday, September 4, 2010 | 5:41 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD — A federal judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit that sought the return of about $800,000 in fines that the city of Springfield collected from its red-light traffic camera system.

The judge denied the lawsuit's claims that the fines violated drivers' rights under the U.S. and state constitutions, the Springfield News-Leader reported Saturday.

The red-light photo traffic enforcement system was taken offline in March after the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the city's process of handling contested tickets violated state law. The court ruled that the city must handle red-light camera tickets through the court system, rather than through administrative hearings.

Unresolved cases and tickets were dismissed.

But a Springfield attorney, Jason Umbarger, then filed a lawsuit in state court seeking refunds for about 8,000 red-light runners who already had paid the $100 fines. A Bolivar law office followed with the federal class-action lawsuit that eventually named about four dozen drivers as plaintiffs.

The federal lawsuit was dismissed Friday.

City Manager Greg Burris said he had not yet read the entire opinion but called it good news.

"As near as I can tell, all of the claims were thrown out, ... but we're not out of the woods," he said, noting that the federal decision could be appealed and the state class-action lawsuit is still pending. "Although this ruling may — underline may — impact the state class-action suit."


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