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Redflex amends suit to include state, moves to join Knoxville suit


A lawsuit against Farragut from Redflex, the Town’s red-light camera vendor, has been amended to include the state of Tennessee, in addition to the state’s attorney general, Robert Cooper Jr.

“We had encouraged Redflex to add the state of Tennessee as a party, which they have apparently now done,” Town attorney Tom Hale said.

“Also, Redflex has made a motion to join or consolidate the case against the town of Farragut with the case [American Traffic Solutions] has filed against Knoxville,” he added.

The amended lawsuit was filed in Knox County Chancery Court Dec. 14.

The lawsuit addresses Public Act 425, a state law that went into effect in July 2011 that essentially outlaws citations from cameras for right turns on red, unless right turns on red have been banned at the intersection entirely.


Public Act 425 only targets the controversial right turns on red, which themselves are regulated by another state law requiring all drivers to “come to a full and complete stop” before turning right on a red light.

“Redflex avers that prohibiting local law enforcement officials from using video evidence in these circumstances lacks a rational basis,” the lawsuit states, adding elsewhere, “and [it] does not advance a legitimate governmental purpose.”

The suit seeks a decision either that Public Act 425 does not apply to existing contracts or that it is unconstitutional because it does. State law protects companies against retrospective laws that would impair already-existing contracts.

“A law, provided it is procedural law, can be made retroactive ... as opposed to substantive changes in the law that affect people’s contract rights and so forth. Those are not supposed to be applied retroactively because they would adversely affect people’s contract rights or other rights they may have,” Hale said.

Public Act 425 doesn’t contain language clearly stating it either does or does not apply retroactively. That opinion was issued by the state Attorney General, despite conversation on the legislative floor that the law would not apply to existing contracts.

Redflex’s lawsuit includes that conversation as an attachment, specifically regarding the bill’s two primary sponsors, Rep. Vince Dean and Sen. Jim Tracy.

“If you are under a current contract today, this legislation will in no way do anything to that contract. ... It will stay in force until it expires,” Tracy said in one Senate session, May 21.

State Rep. Ryan Haynes (Dist. 14, which includes Farragut), was a co-sponsor of the bill, but did not vote on the law.

“I didn’t vote on the bill. I wasn’t there during any of the discussions of it. I do think the intent is that it applies [retroactively],” he said in a previous interview with farragutpress.

Attorney Robert Watson is representing the Town through TML, its insurance pool.

Hale said he was monitoring the suit, and knew Watson was trying to get Farragut pulled out of the suit, since Redflex’s real issue was with a state law with which Farragut had to comply.

“We’re in between sort of a rock and a hard place. The thought is that now that the state’s in there to defend their law, the proper parties are there,” Hale said.

“Probably even if a judge refuses to let us out of the case, there’s not going to be much for us to do. We’re just going to sit back and let them fight it out,” he added.

 

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