GIRARD, Ohio (WKBN) – It looks like an appeal is the likely next step for a lawsuit against the City of Girard and its traffic camera violations that were issued on Interstate 80 in December of 2017 and January of 2018.
“All along, we have said to motorists to slow down,” said Girard mayor Jim Melfi.
In a Thursday filing by the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Andrew Logan ruled that the plaintiffs in the case had an opportunity to appeal their speeding tickets and didn’t and that, in general, the City of Girard has immunity because they were performing a government function.
“Of course there is always fines attached to speeding, whether your opinion is it’s all about money or it’s not, it doesn’t really matter to the speed limit,” Melfi said.
The claims by the group, who received the citations after the speed limit in a construction zone on I-80 was restored, but the violations were given based on a 55-mile-per-hour limit for which signage was not updated, made several claims in their lawsuits. Some have already been dismissed, but this ruling was based on claims including civil conspiracy, violation of the Ohio Constitution (due process), declaratory judgment action and equitable restitution.
Judge Logan dismissed those claims, stating that the plaintiff’s due process afforded in the Ohio Constitution was not violated because the motorists had an opportunity to appeal their tickets and did not.
“The plaintiffs were afforded these opportunities for due process and most chose not to avail themselves of these benefits. This is not a violation of procedural due process. This is a personal choice to disregard such opportunities,” Judge Logan wrote.
Some of the plaintiffs chose to appear for an administrative hearing for their citations where their fines were reduced, according to court documents.
Other issues decided were the immunity factor in the civil conspiracy claim. The City of Girard is offered immunity to damages when performing a government function, for which the speeding tickets fall under that umbrella. While there are expectations, Judge Logan wrote, this case does fall under those guidelines.
Claims of declaratory judgment and equitable restitution were also dismissed since rule of law in the case is “not valid,” Judge Logan wrote.
Although the court ruled largely in favor of the city, attorneys representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit said they’ll be filing an appeal.
“We are hopeful an addition to the 11th District ruling in our favor reversing this case back down to Judge Logan to decide the damages on behalf of the certified class that potentially the Ohio legislature will take a look at this issue,” said attorney Brian Flick.