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Village to Repay Nearly 1.8 Million in Speed Camera Case

ELMWOOD PLACE, Ohio (Jeff Hirsh) -- Ticketed motorists should not plan on a party just yet.

Even though Judge Ruehlman decided against Elmwood Place he put the ruling on hold while the Village appeals Ruehlman's previous order making this a class action lawsuit.  But if the drivers ultimately do win it could be historic.

The Elmwood Place speed cameras nabbed some 10,000 people in less than a year.  105 bucks a pop until Judge Robert Ruehlman said last year the cameras were unconstitutional.

Thursday, Ruehlman said the Village would have to pay back the nearly 1.8 million dollars in fines to all the ticketed motorists, as part of a class action decision. 

Attorney Mike Allen represents the drivers, "To the best of my knowledge this is the first time in this country that a court has ever made a financial judgement against a municipality for speed cameras." 

Elmwood Place has only 2,100 residents.  The court ordered restitution works out to nearly 8,600 dollars per resident.  Plaintiff's attorney Allen says it would make sense for the Village to compromise rather than appeal.

"They've lost at virtually every turn, but have resisted any settlement efforts.  We're hopeful that this judgement against them, to the tune of $1.8 million dollars, will convince them to try to settle this matter.  We will entertain any reasonable settlement offer."

The attorney for Elmwood Place, Judd Uhl, tells Local 12 News he's disappointed but not the least bit surprised considering Judge Ruehlman's previous decisions in this matter.  Uhl says the Judge is unfairly ordering Elmwood to pay back too much.

1.8 million includes about 800,000 made by the contractor which ran the cameras.  Uhl also strongly objected to the Judge saying Elmwood Place acted, "in bad faith," which Uhl says would be the equivalent of fraud.

Elmwood Place is appealing the class action certification and once that's resolved, could also appeal the merits of the case itself.  So this case could be in court for a long time before the ticketed drivers see anything, assuming they win.

"We're not going anywhere.  We've been in this case since the beginning and we'll follow this through if it's two years or twenty years."

Attorney Allen is also involved in a lawsuit against speed cameras in New Miami in Butler County.  Allen says the Hamilton County ruling is, "persuasive authority" but not binding in another county.  That case is back in court next month.

Statewide, the Ohio House has passed a law banning speed cameras but a measure expected to be introduced in the Senate would instead regulate them and allow the cameras under certain circumstances.




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