The two sides in the New Miami speed camera case could not reach a settlement Tuesday in their first mediation session after more than three years of arguments.
The attorneys met for almost four hours but came away with nothing and haven’t scheduled another mediation. Both speeders’ attorney Josh Engel and New Miami’s litigation attorney James Englert said they could not discuss what they talked about.
New Miami’s former speed program was deemed unconstitutional in 2014 when a Butler County judge banned its use and granted the case class-action status, meaning thousands of other motorists who had been cited could join a lawsuit and seek a legal remedy.
“There was a frank exchange of views,” was all Englert would say.
Engel said they will be heading back to see Judge Michael A. Oster Jr.
“We’re going to ask Judge Oster to enter a judgment of about $3 million in favor of the motorists who paid into this unconstitutional program,” he said. “The village represented in court that it had about $1.2 million available to pay the judgment in this case, and we expect them to maintain those funds as available to pay the inevitable judgment.”
An affidavit filed by the village’s fiscal officer, Belinda Ricketts, states the amount collected by the New Miami was $1.84 million. The village contracted with Optotraffic to run the previous speed camera program, and for that service the Maryland traffic camera business was paid $1.2 million, or 40 percent of the total fine collection amount. So the final figure the speeders want to collect is $3 million.
Since a complaint filed by two Butler County women and two Cincinnati residents, the village has incurred $98,575 in legal expenses. The two sides agreed to meet with retired former common pleas judge and 12th District Court of Appeals Judge H.J. Bressler.
The village’s litigation attorney James Englert told the Journal-News earlier that Oster scheduled the mediation hearing, and since the case has dragged on so long and is still really only in the beginning stages — with no rulings yet on substantive issues — it’s time for the two sides to talk.
“I think both sides want to go along with Judge Oster’s order and see if it can be resolved,” he said. “Both sides just have to be aware of the risks that are still out there.”
The case has twice gone to the 12th District Court of Appeals, and the village tried to get the Ohio Supreme Court to hear arguments on the class action, to no avail.