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Drivers appeal ruling on I-80 speed cameras

WARREN — The lawyer for plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit over ticketing by speed cameras on Interstate 80 in Girard is appealing a Trumbull County judge’s ruling that favored the city.

Common Pleas Judge Andrew D. Logan on Dec. 9 submitted an eight-page decision reaffirming an August 2021 preliminary settlement agreement in the case, in which camera operators Blue Line Solutions agreed to pay $175,000 to settle the claims. Logan also made no ruling against the city of Girard nor damages.

The appeal was filed by attorney Marc Dann on behalf of plaintiffs Miles and Melissa Black of Canfield, Lorraine Morris of Louisville, John Perfette of Howland, Samuel Rotz of Hubbard and John Beal of Diamond, the class representatives of the 7,700 I-80 motorists who were ticketed for speeding for a one-month period in late 2017 and early 2018. It was during this time that motorists were ticketed for going the legal speed limit of 65 mph because the speed cameras were calibrated for the construction-zone speed limit of 55 mph.

The judge’s edict dismissed Blue Line Solutions from the lawsuit and ordered the defendants to pay a little more than $66,000 for attorney fees and court costs and $1,000 to each of the six class representatives for their time and effort in working the case, the judge wrote.

“We appealed because we think the judge got it wrong,” Dann told the newspaper. “Our clients had no idea that the computers were miscalibrated when they had the chance to appeal the tickets. Without that information, they had no meaningful due process of law.”

The case will be heard by the Ohio 11th District Court of Appeals, based in Warren.

No date has been scheduled yet for arguments.

“All along, we felt that the entire situation was very fair,” Girard Mayor James Melfi said. “Speeding has been a dangerous thing, and if we have done something to slow traffic down in Girard, then that is a good thing. It has been proven there is a correlation between slower speeds and safety.”

Melfi said Girard City Law Director Brian Kren will be filing a response early this year.

Earlier in 2017, the speed limit on the stretch of I-80 that passes through Girard had been reduced to 55 mph while the Ohio Department of Transportation repaired the highway.

“The limit was raised to 65 when work was completed on Dec. 7 (2017), but for the next month, the city and Blue Line continued to cite people for speeding through a construction zone that no longer existed,” Dann said. “As a result, thousands of people paid fines of $100 to $150 they did not owe, many were charged substantial late and collection fees, and those who appealed the citations were hit with an additional fee of $25 even though they had done nothing wrong. The entire situation was inexcusable and outrageous.”

Dann said he hopes the case will inspire the Ohio General Assembly to “rein in the speed-camera racket.”

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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