Federal lawsuit seeks to hold Girard liable for I-80 speeding tickets


By Justin Wier

jwier@vindy.com

GIRARD

A former Ohio attorney general filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court that seeks to hold the city of Girard responsible for speeding tickets issued to drivers after construction ended on Interstate 80.

Several drivers received tickets between Dec. 7 and Jan. 7 for exceeding 55 mph after the Ohio Department of Transportation changed the speed limit to 65 mph. ODOT, however, failed to remove the sign that reduced the 55 mph speed limit during construction.

The city’s speed cameras continued to cite drivers for exceeding 55 mph.

The city’s service director told The Vindicator last month the city would not reimburse motorists who received tickets that month.

The city’s law director maintained the speed limit was actually 55 mph as posted on the signs. He said ODOT did not notify the city of the change, but ODOT said it was not required to tell the police department about construction-zone changes.

Three plaintiffs, including one who received a ticket when traveling 60 mph, signed on to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by Marc Dann, a former Ohio attorney general. The suit seeks to form a class of all motorists who received tickets throughout the month in question.

The lawsuit says the decision of the mayor, city council and the police chief to continue writing tickets violates the U.S. and Ohio constitutions despite whether the parties acted intentionally or out of negligence.

It argues the issuance of tickets unjustly enriched the city, and it would be unconscionable for the city to retain the fines.

The lawsuit asks Judge Benita Y. Pearson, who has been assigned to the case, to declare all tickets issued between Dec. and Jan. 7 invalid and to award actual and punitive damages to all motorists who paid the tickets.

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