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Appeals court upholds dismissal of suit against Nassau red-light camera program

A sign indicating the presence of a red-light

A sign indicating the presence of a red-light camera is seen in Baldwin on May 7, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by a Bayside woman who claimed that Nassau County shortened the time of yellow traffic lights to generate more revenue from its red-light camera program.

The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a January ruling by Nassau District Court Judge Arthur Spatt dismissing a suit by Claire Leder, who received a $65 red-light camera ticket in 2011 on Marcus Avenue in Lake Success.

The appellate court said Leder's complaint was "without merit" and that the county and American Traffic Solutions, the Arizona-based firm that runs the red-light camera program, had not violated her right to due process.

The Court of Appeals ruling noted that the Queens woman voluntarily paid her red light camera ticket before later alleging that the yellow light time was faulty.

"Her avowed ignorance of New York law as to yellow-light time does not overcome her voluntary payment of a fine when she ran a red light," the court ruled.

In 2014, Leder sued Nassau's Traffic and Parking Violations Agency and American Traffic Solutions, asking the district court to shut down the program.

The suit contended that Nassau's 74 red-light camera intersections do not conform to federal traffic standards mandating that the yellow lights last at least three seconds.

Spatt dismissed the case, arguing that Leder failed to provide any facts that show Nassau acted "intentionally or recklessly by lowering the duration of yellow traffic lights."

Leder's attorney, Raymond Barto, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Nassau generated $36.8 million in revenue from the red light camera program in 2013, according to the county traffic violations agency.A 2014 report on the program is expected next month, county officials said.

County Attorney Carnell Foskey said Wednesday that the program has "saved lives by significantly reducing auto accidents and the court's decision ensures the program's continuation by rejecting the frivolous claims brought against the county."

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