CHICAGO (CN) - In a federal class action, Chicago drivers demand partial refunds of their $100 red-light tickets, claiming that a whistleblower revealed the red-light camera operator bribed city officials to win the contract.
Lead plaintiff Matthew Falkner sued Redflex Traffic Systems on Thursday.
"In approximately 2010, a whistleblower - a Redflex executive - reported that an improper relationship between Redflex consultants and City of Chicago officials wherein Redflex officials bribed City of Chicago officials to secure the lucrative City of Chicago Red Light Camera contract," the complaint states.
The red light traffic camera system, installed in 2003, is a network of 384 robotic cameras across the city that captures red-light violators on video, and automatically sends them a $100 red-light ticket.
"The City of Chicago contract was Redflex's largest contract in North America, and provided Redflex in excess of $100 million in revenue since 2003, out of the approximate $500 million in ticket revenue realized by the City of Chicago between 2003 and 2012. This represented approximately 13 percent of Redflex's worldwide revenue," Falkner claims.
He adds: "The primary object of the bribery was a provision setting the amount from each red light ticket paid by a class member that would be paid to defendants. As a direct result of the bribery scheme, defendants were able to contractually retain approximately 20 to 25 percent of all 'ticket revenue' generated by tickets paid by class members."
Falkner seeks class certification and refunds of the portion of red light tickets that went to Redflex because the contract was achieved through bribery.
He is represented by Thomas Connick with Dubyak, Connick, Sammon, Thompson and Bloom in Cleveland, with assistance from local counsel Thomas Cronin in Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune reported last week that thousands of drivers have been wrongly ticketed for red-light violations in Chicago during sudden spikes of camera activity that neither the city nor Redflex can explain.
"Cameras that for years generated just a few tickets daily suddenly caught dozens of drivers a day," the Tribune reported on Friday.
"One North Side camera generated only a dozen tickets for rolling rights out of 100 total tickets in the entire second half of 2011. Then, over a 12-day spike, it spewed 563 tickets - 560 of them for rolling rights."
The Tribune said it found these spikes in an analysis of more than 4 million tickets issued since 2007.
"The experts all said the available evidence leads them to only two possible explanations - that ticket procedures were quietly broadened to catch more violators, or that malfunctions led the system to wrongly tag lawful drivers," the Tribune reported.
Chicago transportation officials told the Tribune they had no knowledge of the unusual camera activity, although Redflex's contract requires it to report any anomaly in ticketing patterns.
Experts who reviewed the Tribune's findings suggested that drivers are entitled to refunds.