Court Orders the City of New Orleans to Refund More than $25 million in Red Light Camera Tickets

WWL reports that New Orleans may be forced to pay more than $25 million to motorists who were slapped with red light camera fines between 2008 and 2010 following a ruling against the city from an appellate court.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal recently upheld a previous judgement against New Orleans declaring its issuance of tickets to more than 200,000 drivers to be invalid because it was handled by the Department of Public Works instead of the police department.

Judge Robert Burns ruled against New Orleans in 2017 as similar lawsuits were bundled together into a class action suit. The city quickly responded by appealing, making the case that it had the authority to assign tickets to a City Hall agency instead of the NOPD.

But the judge panel of the Fourth Circuit, made of Chief Judge James McKay III, Judge Paula Jones and Judge Dale Atkins, issued a ruling on September 4, 2019 that the city’s home rule charter dictates that “a traffic bureau within the NOPD shall be responsible for enforcing the street regulations of the city.”

The $25 million judgement, plus interest, will be tacked on to the extensive list of unpaid judgements against the city. Due to how the city of New Orleans can’t be subject to forfeiture for not being able to fulfill payments, it still has millions of dollars in judgements that have not been paid for decades.

The bulk of the unpaid lawsuits are owed to individuals, not large classes of plaintiffs. In cases dealing with red-lights cameras, Judge Burns ruled that the city “shall immediately refund” the fines and fees to plaintiffs.

Generally speaking, the individual fines that were improperly collected were $110 for running a red light. City spokesperson LaTonya Norton stated that the city is likely going to appeal this case. An appeal could be carried out by making a reconsideration request to the Fourth Circuit or appealing directly to the state Supreme Court.