Toss photo-radar suit: officials

Will argue action an abuse of court

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THE province and city will be in court Thursday to ask a judge to toss out a massive lawsuit against them -- a $400-million claim filed a month ago that slams photo radar and says the cameras should be yanked.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/08/2009 (4740 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THE province and city will be in court Thursday to ask a judge to toss out a massive lawsuit against them — a $400-million claim filed a month ago that slams photo radar and says the cameras should be yanked.

Lawyers for the Manitoba government and City of Winnipeg say the statement of claim, initiated by the Road Safety Awareness Group (RSAG), is an abuse of the court process, scandalous, and frivolous.

In court documents, city lawyer Leonard Strijack said the RSAG’s claim is also irrelevant.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A member of the police traffic division mans a speed trap on Kenaston Boulevard under a makeshift rain shelter Monday.

“The statement of claim is so poorly framed that it would prejudice the fair trial of the action should it be allowed to stand,” Strijack said in documents filed with the court, adding the RSAG also has no legal standing.

The RSAG filed its claim July 17 asking for a judicial declaration that the photo-radar program is illegal and is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The group asks that more than $258 million collected in fines be returned to those who’ve been ticketed by the cameras since photo enforcement’s inception in 2002.

Government and city lawyers will ask to remove provincial and city officials from the RSAG’s claim. That includes community services committee chairman Coun. Gord Steeves. The claim is also against the city police chief and Manitoba’s attorney general, but it doesn’t name Police Chief Keith McCaskill or Attorney General Dave Chomiak specifically.

The RSAG’s claim also is also against the provider of photo radar Affiliated Computer Services Inc. and its subsidiaries, and Jon Butcher, a former city police officer now employed by ACS. The company and Butcher have not responded yet.

The RSAG says on its website it is a non-profit association founded by concerned citizens to promote safer streets and to protect personal privacy of Manitobans. It does not have a lawyer at this point.

It’s the second claim against photo enforcement before the courts. A class-action suit was launched earlier this year against the city and province. That legal action must still be accepted by the courts as a class-action suit on behalf of all motorists.

The latest case is in response to last spring’s controversy over the use of photo radar in construction zones when workers weren’t working. It started when a traffic-court magistrate threw out nine construction-zone speeding tickets, and grew when the Crown stayed 875 outstanding cases after officials learned signs in construction zones had not been legally placed.

There was a faint glimmer 60,000 tickets also issued by the cameras might be refunded, but Chomiak soon quashed that hope, saying payment of a fine was akin to a guilty plea.

Photo radar still operates in construction zones under reworded regulations. Police have said their construction-zone enforcement blitz has resulted in more motorists driving more slowly through construction zones and fewer tickets being issued this year over last.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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