Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against 19 Washington Cities, Including Burien, Over Red Light Camera Fines
On Tuesday (June 23rd) a class action lawsuit was filed in King County Superior CourtÂ that alleges that 19 Washington cities, including Burien, are overcharging drivers who get tickets via red light cameras.
Attorneys for the eight plaintiffs are seeking class-action status over a 2005 law that says traffic-camera fines â€œshall not exceed the amount of the fine issued for other parking infractions within the jurisdiction,â€ according to the complaint.
â€œThe intent of the Legislature was primarily safety, not raising of revenue,â€ said the complaint.
The suit was filed by attorneys representing four Seattle residents, inclduing two from Lynnwood, one from Lakewood and one from Puyallup. Their fines ranged from $64 to $124 per violation. According to court documents, one man, Seattleâ€™s Mark Contratto, was fined $124 over two consecutive days for failing to come to a complete stop before turning right at a red stoplight.
The plaintiffs will ask a King County Judge to order a refund of the difference between $124 and the cost of an ordinary parking ticket.
As we’ve previously reported, Burien currently sends out a $101 fine for red light infractions, with five cameras operating at these three intersections:
- 1st Avenue South at SW 148th Street
- 1st Avenue South at SW 152nd Street
- 1st Avenue South at SW 160th Street
The cameras operate 24 hours a day and capture still photos and video of every vehicle that runs a red light at the intersection. After being processed by manufacturer RedFlex, the videos are accessed by Burien police through a website, where they are analyzed by an officer who decides whether or not to send out a ticket.
As for expected revenue, the city is expecting at least $200,000 in revenue for 2009 and $250,000 in 2010; these estimates were based on what the revenue generated in other cities by similar red light enforcement programs.
The lawsuit has not yet been served on Burien, nor the other 18 cities named. Once these cities are served, each jurisdiction will have 20 days to respond.
Those wishing to join the suit can contact attorney Rob Williamson at [email protected] or 206-780-4447.
In addition to the City of Burien, defendants include the cities of:
- Bonney Lake
- Federal Way
- Lake Forest Park
- Moses Lake
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