The village of New Miami has filed an immediate appeal after a judge ruled that $3 million should be returned to drivers caught by speed cameras later deemed unconstitutional.
The village filed a notice of appeal Friday, which will set in motion an appeal on several matters, including whether the village is liable for the entire $3 million amount, rather than just the $1.8 million that went into village coffers. The rest of the money went to the vendor that ran the old speed camera program.
Judge Michael Oster determined last month the village is responsible for the entire amount, based on unjust enrichment claims.
Shirley Walker and her husband, David, like to go to Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield so they usually travel from their home in Eaton down U.S. 127 through New Miami to get there. Walker says her husband got caught by the old cameras two or three times and dutifully paid the $95 ticket each time.
She says they “hate” the speed traps and find it frustrating the case — that has been traveling around the Butler County and state appellate courts since 2013 — will be delayed even more.
“I feel like it’s a rip off,” she said. “We were going to fight it, it’s not right, it’s not fair, it makes me so mad, but by the time you get a lawyer to fight it and stuff, you might as well go ahead and pay it.”
One of the speeders’ attorneys, Josh Engel, said the village is putting the cart before the horse.
“This is premature,” Engel said. “With a few exceptions — not present here — a party can’t appeal decisions until the entire case is complete. In this case Judge Oster still has to set the final amount of restitution and deal with issues related to the distribution of funds to the class.”
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New Miami’s outside counsel James Englert said the timing of the appeal is in kind of a “gray area” in this case because he believes the only thing left for Oster to do is to issue an order to the village to pay the $3 million-plus judgment.
“We believe that we had no choice at this point but to file the appeal,” he said. “What we could not have happen was to not file at this point and then wait until there was a dollar amount assigned and then be looking at a motion to dismiss, because there already was a final judgment issued.”
Englert has said all along, especially with an Ohio Supreme Court decision that favors the speed camera process, they will prevail and that is why they continue to defend the case. The case was already appealed once to both the 12th District and high court, but only on the issue of class certification.
Engel told the Journal-News they will ask the 12th District to dismiss the appeal.
“This is appeal is unlawful and we intend to ask the court to dismiss it immediately. This is yet another in a series of efforts by New Miami to delay their obligation to pay back motorists who paid fines under their unconstitutional scheme,” he said. “The rules of court prohibit filings for an improper purpose such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation. Yet this is what they are doing in this appeal.”
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