New Orleans owes $25.6 million in refunds to hundreds of thousands of motorists ticketed by the city's traffic camera program in the first three years of its existence, a judge has ruled.
Robert Burns, a former Jefferson Parish judge serving as the ad hoc judge over the lawsuit, finalized the total amount owed in a ruling last week.
Refunds of $110 each are owed to motorists who were ticketed by the red-light cameras while they overseen by the city's Public Works Department from January 2008 until the beginning of November 2010, when the program was placed under the oversight of the New Orleans Police Department.
Burns ruled in November that the tickets issued while the program was run by Public Works violated the City Charter, and those cited deserved a full refund, but he did not finalize the amount the city owed at that time.
In addition to the refunds, Burns ruled the city owes interest on the payments. That amounts to about $8 million so far, and the meter is still running, said Joseph McMahon, the lawyer who brought the class-action suit against the city.
However, those potentially eligible for payments could have a while to wait. The city has a large backlog of unpaid legal judgments dating back many years.
In addition, an appeal is likely, according to Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office.
"The city is weighing its options and will likely appeal this ruling," Landrieu spokeswoman Aaren Gordon said in an email.
That would push the matter into the term of Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell, who has said she intends to get rid of the traffic cameras and who might decide to drop the appeal. Of course, she still would have to find the millions needed to pay the judgment.