Trumbull County — Speed cameras have been a source of fierce debate for years. Now, they're the source of a Federal class action lawsuit here in Ohio.
The suit is over speeding tickets issued on Interstate 80 to people who allegedly weren't speeding.
We all know the dangers of driving through a construction zone. In Youngstown, a driver killed an ODOT worker after pushing him into a piece equipment.
It's why the speeds limits are reduced.
"I agree with that 110%. I mean, without a doubt, if you're in a construction zone you should be going whatever the posted limit is,” said John Perfette.
But in January, Perfette was whacked with a one hundred dollar ticket for speeding along a stretch of I-80 in Girard near Youngstown.
"The speed zone was posted at 65 miles an hour and they were issuing tickets for anybody going over 55,” said Perfette.
While ODOT had been doing construction in the area, it finished in early December. One 55 mile per hour sign was mistakenly left behind. So, the tickets from Girard kept coming -- nearly 7,000 of them.
"[The police] are supposed to know what the speed limit is,” said attorney Marc Dann. “If the Girard police doesn't know what the speed limit is in their city, then who does?"
It's why Dann filed a class action lawsuit alleging consumer fraud and asking for drivers to be reimbursed.
"I don't care if I put up a sign as a prank -- you know, the rival football team put up a sign saying it was 22 miles an hour -- it was 65 on those days,” Dann said. “Girard knew or should have known that, and they decided to charge these people anyway."
The city didn't respond to our requests for an interview but told our sister station in Youngstown that they were just enforcing the posted speed limit, and if anyone should be reimbursing drivers, it should be ODOT.
ODOT says it's not their job to enforce speed limits.
"I initially sent a letter to the Girard Chief of police asking for a reimbursement and got zero response,” Perfette said.
He added that he went through the appeals process with the company behind the cameras and was denied, which is why Dann calls this just a cash grab.
“This community was so greedy that even when they made a mistake and collected money they shouldn't get, they didn't give it back,” said Dann. “And that's why we had to sue them."
At $104 to $179 dollars a ticket, Dann estimates that the city probably brought in about a million dollars. But if drivers don't pay, and the city sends a collection agency after them, Dann plans to sue those companies if he wins the suit, for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
According to the Act, if you say something false to collect a debt (like you are guilty of speeding even though you are not)--even if you didn't know it was false--you're liable.