In October 2014, a class action lawsuit resulting from hundreds of thousands of red light citations issued to Florida drivers across 70 counties and municipalities alleging the violation of state law was filed in federal court.

Theodore J. Leopold of Cohen Milstein was appointed Co-Lead Counsel in the class action lawsuit which alleges American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (ATS), improperly administered Florida’s red light program by issuing Notices of Violation and Uniform Traffic Citations.

Case Background

The class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division, alleges American Traffic Solutions, Inc. (“ATS”), one of the two largest traffic camera operators in the country, improperly stepped into the shoes of law enforcement in administering Florida’s red light program by issuing Notices of Violation and Uniform Traffic Citations.  Under Florida Statute Section 316.0083(1)(a) only  Traffic Infraction Enforcement Officers, who are government employees, are authorized to issue Notices of Violation and Uniform Traffic Citations. On Oct. 15, 2014, the 4th District Court of Appeals affirmed that ATS’s practices contravene the Florida Statute in City of Hollywood v. Arem, No. 4D12–1312.

“The law mandates that qualified officers must determine who has violated our traffic laws and issue traffic citations, keeping the authority to enforce the law in the hands of law enforcement.   ATS’s actions are a clear violation of the statute,” said plaintiffs’ Co-Lead Counsel Theodore J. Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC.

The lawsuit was filed by Florida residents Christopher L. Parker and Marwa Moussa, on behalf of all individuals who received a Notice of Violation or Uniform Traffic Citation in Florida as a result of an image or video taken from a red light camera administered by ATS from July 1, 2010, through the present.

Rulings have generally favored the class action suit and include U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno trimming but refusing to throw out the putative class action against local governments and ATS, allowing for an unjust enrichment claim and some deceptive business practices allegations to move forward. More recently, the Eleventh Circuit sided with Plaintiffs in ruling that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the defendant Florida municipalities’ interlocutory appeal regarding sovereign immunity, potentially paving the way for more municipalities to have to face court in federal cases.  However, because of a split in authority at the state court level, the parties agreed to a joint motion to stay pending the Florida Supreme Court’s decision as to whether it will exercise its jurisdiction to resolve the split. 

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction in the Jimenez case as a matter of great public importance.  The federal case remains stayed pending briefing and oral argument in the Florida Supreme Court, which will be led by Co-Lead Counsel Podhurst Orseck, P.A. with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll’s assistance.

"We are pleased with the Florida Supreme Court's decision to review the case on the basis that it involves an issue of great public importance,” said Leopold.  “Several cities and counties around our state utilize red-light cameras, and it is appropriate that our State’s highest court will consider and finally resolve whether or not they have the right to do so.”

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC attorneys Theodore J. Leopold, Andrew N. Friedman, and Sally M. Handmaker represent the plaintiffs in this matter.

The case is Parker et al. v. American Traffic Solutions Inc. et al., case number 1:14-cv-24010, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.