Lawyer: Girard wrongfully issued 7K speeding tickets
By Samantha Phillips
A former Ohio attorney general filed a class-action lawsuit that argues drivers on Interstate 80 exceeding 55 mph between Dec. 7, 2017, and Jan. 6 this year were wrongfully ticketed after construction ended.
The normal speed limit on I-80 is 65 mph.
The lawsuit, filed Monday by Atty. Marc Dann, argues the city knew the reduced speed limit was no longer enforced on the highway because the citations indicated the violation happened in a “nonconstruction zone.”
“At that time, the legal speed limit on the highway became 65 mph,” Dann said. “We believe more than 7,000 tickets were issued in error during that time.”
In March, city Law Director Brian Kren maintained drivers would not be reimbursed because the Ohio Department of Transportation didn’t remove the 55 mph sign until January. Mayor James Melfi said citations were written based on the sign’s speed limit.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs who received citations and all others who were unjustly cited, and claims their state constitutional rights were violated.
It asks Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court to declare all tickets issued between Dec. 7 and Jan. 7 invalid and to return the fines to the plaintiffs, award between $500 and $5,000 in noneconomic damages to the plaintiffs and assess punitive damages against the city and Blue Line Solutions, the company that provides the speed cameras.
Some of the plaintiffs attempted to contest the citations but were denied. All of them paid the tickets, ranging from $100 to $150, plus substantial late fees and $25 if they tried to contest their ticket, the lawsuit said.
“In many cases, people were receiving and paying outrageous amounts of money even though they had done nothing wrong,” Dann said. “We estimate that the city and Blue Line split more than $2 million they weren’t owed during the period in question.”
Dann originally filed a similar lawsuit in the U.S. District Court but moved his suit to the county court. Dann served as attorney general from 2007 until his resignation in 2008.