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Thompson v. City of St. Peters

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 24, 2016

GINA THOMPSON and KAREN MCCABE, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF ST. PETERS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant City of St. Peters, Missouri's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 57). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs Gina Thompson and Karen McCabe ("Plaintiffs") filed a Class Action Complaint in this Court on March 4, 2015, against Defendants City of St. Peters, Missouri ("St. Peters), Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc. ("Redflex"), and Does 1 through 24 alleging that the red light camera program is unconstitutional. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-2, ECF No. 4) In their Complaint, Plaintiffs assert nine counts: (I) Declaratory judgment; (II) Unjust Enrichment against Defendant St. Peters; (III) Violation of Article I § 19 of the Missouri Constitution against Defendant St. Peters; (IV) Violation of Article I § 10 of the Missouri Constitution against Defendant St. Peters; (V) Unjust Enrichment against Defendant Redflex; (VI) Abuse of Process against all Defendants; (VII) Damages for Violations of Mo. Rev. Stat. § 484.010, et seq., against Defendant Redflex; (VIII) Money Had and Received against Defendants by Subclass 1; and (IX) Money Had and Received against Defendants by Subclass 2. (Compl., ECF No. 4)

         On February 16, 2016, Defendant St. Peters filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all of Plaintiffs claims against the City. (ECF No. 57) Plaintiffs filed a response in opposition to Defendant's motion, asserting that genuine issues of material fact exist with regard to the allegations contained in the Complaint. (ECF No. 67)

         This case stems from Ordinances allowing the automated enforcement of traffic regulations by using cameras at red lights to photograph traffic violations.[1] Plaintiff Thompson paid a $110.00 penalty after she received at least one Citation in the mail pursuant to St. Peter's Ordinance 335.095 around 2012 and/or 2013. (Compl. ¶ 13, ECF No. 4) Plaintiff McCabe paid a $110.00 penalty after receiving at least one Citation in the mail pursuant to St. Peter's Ordinance 335.097 in 2013 and/or 2014. (Compl. ¶ 14)

         On June 8, 2006, the City of St. Peters adopted Ordinance No. 4536, which amended Section 335.095 of the City Code of the City of St. Peters, Missouri, entitled "Automated Enforcement of Traffic Control Signal Regulations." (Compl. ¶ 32; Def St. Peters' Ex. A, 2006 Ordinance, ECF. No. 59-1) On November 7, 2013, the City adopted Ordinance No. 6014, which amended Section 335.097, entitled "Automated Photo Enforcement of Traffic Regulations." (Compl. ¶ 53; Def. St. Peters' Ex. B, 2013 Ordinance, ECF No. 59-2) Ordinance Nos. 4536 and 6014 (collectively "Ordinances") authorized the installation and operation of an automated red light enforcement system ("Camera System"). (Def. St. Peters' Exs. A & B, ECF Nos. 59-1, 59-2) These Camera Systems consisted of cameras and vehicle sensors working in conjunction with a traffic control signal to produce images and a video recording of a motor vehicle running a red light. (Def. St. Peters' SUMF ¶ 3, ECF No. 59) An officer employed by the St. Peters Police Department would examine the recorded images and determine whether the vehicle operator violated the City's Traffic Code. (Id. at ¶¶ 4-5) Upon filing an information, a summons would be served on the vehicle's owner. (Id. at ¶ 6)

         Plaintiff Thompson received notices of violation and summonses for four separate violations of Section 335.095. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-30; Def. St. Peters' Exs. E-H, ECF Nos. 59-5 through 59-8) The citations included a court date, instructions how to access the photos and video footage online, and an option to pay the $110.00 fine in lieu of appearing in court. (Def. St. Peters' Ex. E, ECF No. 59-5) On all four occasions, Ms. Thompson elected to pay the fine. (Def St. Peters' SUMF ¶¶ 12, 18, 24, 30)

         Ordinance 6014 enacted new provisions related to the Camera System.[2] (Def. St. Peters' SUMF ¶ 33; Def. St. Peters' Ex. B, 2013 Ordinance, ECF No. 59-2) Plaintiff McCabe received a notice of violation and summons for an alleged violation of Section 335.097 that occurred on July 3, 2014. (Def. St. Peters' SUMF ¶ 34; Def. St. Peters' Ex. I, ECF No. 59-9) The citation included a court date, instructions on accessing the photos and video footage, and instructions for paying the $110.00 fine. (Def. St. Peters' Ex. I, ECF No. 59-9) Ms. McCabe paid the fine. (Def. St. Peters' SUMF ¶ 39)

         II. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), a court may grant a motion for summary judgment only if all of the information before the court shows "there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The court must view the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Hutson v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 63 F.3d 771, 775 (8th Cir. 1995).

         The moving party has the initial burden to establish the non-existence of any genuine issue of fact that is material to a judgment in its favor. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th Cir. 1988). Once this burden is discharged, if the record does in fact bear out that no genuine dispute exists, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party, who must set forth affirmative evidence and specific facts showing there is a genuine dispute on that issue. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986).

         When the burden shifts, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations in its pleadings, but by affidavit and other evidence must set forth specific facts showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed. R. Civ .P. 56(e). The non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). In fact, the non-moving party must present sufficient evidence favoring the non-moving party which would enable a jury to return a verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.

         III. ...


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