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New Miami loses appeal on speed camera fines, closer to paying out $3M

Ohio Supreme Court ruled no conflict exists between a municipality’s ordinance allowing the use of traffic cameras and state law allowing a reduction of a municipality’s share of the 
state’s local-government funds.
Posted at 1:20 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 13:20:46-05

NEW MIAMI, Ohio -  New Miami speeders are one step closer to collecting $3 million in unconstitutional fines following a 12th District Court of Appeals ruling.

The court has ruled that New Miami is not entitled immunity because the village gained funds by collecting fines under the old speed camera program, which has been declared unconstitutional.

The action seeking restitution by plaintiffs ‘is not a civil suit for money damages but rather an action to correct the unjust enrichment of’ New Miami,” Judge Michael Powell wrote for the unanimous court. “As the Ohio Supreme Court plainly held, ‘A suit that seeks the return of specific funds wrongfully collected or held by the state is brought in equity’ and ‘is consequently not barred by sovereign immunity.’”

New Miami’s former speed camera system and its new one are managed by a third-party vendor, Optotraffic, a Maryland business. The village and Optotraffic split ticket revenues 60-40,  so the village kept $1.8 million during the 15 months the cameras were in operation and Optotraffic got $1.2 million.

The speeders want to collect the $3 million plus nearly $400,000 in interest.

To date, the village has collected $632,566 under the new program and the lawsuit has cost taxpayers $296,457 in legal fees. New Miami has to pay the legal bills out of pocket because this type of lawsuit isn’t covered under insurance.