Local Government

Linn County judge dumps class-action case challenging traffic cameras

Appeal planned

Traffic approaches the speed enforcement traffic cameras on I-380 Northbound near the J Avenue exit in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, August 25, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Traffic approaches the speed enforcement traffic cameras on I-380 Northbound near the J Avenue exit in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, August 25, 2015. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Linn County District Court judge has granted summary judgment to dismiss in its entirety a class-action lawsuit seeking to ban automated traffic cameras in Cedar Rapids.

Sixth District Court Judge Christopher Bruns rejected virtually every argument in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Myron D. Behm, Burton J. Brooks, Bobby L. Langston, David L. Brodsky, Jeffrey R. Olson and Geoff T. Smith against the city of Cedar Rapids and its traffic camera vendor GATSO USA.

“The court has found the ATE ordinance and its implementation to be constitutional,” Bruns wrote.

Judges have dismissed similar cases against Cedar Rapids and Des Moines at the federal level. Appeals in those cases are pending, while the Iowa Supreme Court is reviewing another case that rose up from small claims court.

“GATSO is happy with the ruling,” said Paul Burns, Gatso’s attorney. “Four judges have now considered legal challenges to Cedar Rapids’ (automated traffic enforcement) system. All four have rejected those claims.”

The plaintiff’s attorney James Larew, who is representing numerous clients in traffic camera cases against Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, vowed the legal fight is not over.

“We respectfully disagree with the ruling and plan to appeal it on behalf of our clients to the Iowa Supreme Court,” Larew said.

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Bruns rejected claims that Cedar Rapids and GATSO are unfairly enriched at the expense of the plaintiffs, that conflict between the Cedar Rapids traffic camera program and the Iowa Department of Transportation rules doesn’t pre-empt enforcement of the Cedar Rapids cameras, that Cedar Rapids has unlawfully delegated police power to a third party, and that due process rights have not been violated because ticket recipients can appeal through the court system.

Cedar Rapids has operated automated traffic cameras since 2010 to help improve safety, while critics contend it’s a moneymaking scheme. Cameras exist at four locations on Interstate 380 and three locations on local roads. Fines, which don’t count against a driver’s license, begin at $75, and proceeds are split between the city and GATSO.

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