Class-action lawsuit seeks to get cash back for red-light tickets

Written By Mitch Dudek Posted: 07/17/2014, 09:32pm

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A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court claims that because Redflex — the company that provided Chicago’s red-light cameras — earned millions of dollars from a city contract obtained through bribery, everyone who was ticketed should get their money back.

The suit claims the contract called for 20 to 25 percent of each $100 red-light ticket go to Redflex, generating about $100 million in “illgotten gains” that “unjustly enriched” the company. Chicagoan Matthew Falkner, a banker with Credit Suisse, filed the suit.

“Frankly there should be a return to the people who paid that money,” said Falkner’s attorney, Thomas Cronin. “That extra charge was uncalled for because it was negotiated by bribery.”

The lawsuit’s class-action status needs to be approved by a federal judge.

The lawsuit calls for the city and company to share records to help find the hundreds of thousands of people who were ticketed and deserve their money back. If the suit is successful, a “top notch” accounting firm would be used to help distribute funds.

Redflex’s internal investigation concluded last year that the company secretly bribed former city worker John Bills, who since has been charged in the scheme, with favors that included a used Mercedes and a condo in Arizona to secure the contract. 

Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut ties with the company last year.

Several other lawsuits have been filed that challenge the the technical aspects of using cameras to issue tickets. Thursday’s lawsuit challenged the company’s right to keep money gained through the use of bribery.

By keeping the money, Redflex “violates the fundamental principals of justice, equity and good conscience,” the suit said.

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