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Red light camera settlement proposed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tens of thousands of people would be eligible for about $200 each under a proposed settlement with the company that once ran Albuquerque’s old red light camera system.

Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. and four other companies have reached a tentative settlement of $3.5 million in a class-action lawsuit over “robocall” collection tactics, according to documents filed in the case.

The plaintiffs allege a company called Creditwatch Services violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by making automated robocalls to people while trying to collect red light camera fines. The plaintiffs say Creditwatch didn’t have permission to make automated calls to their cellphones.

Creditwatch and its fellow defendants – Redflex, Creditwatch Oversight LLC, CWGP LLC and Credit Control LLC – deny the allegations. But the two sides say they’ve reached a tentative agreement after months of negotiations.

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The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to grant preliminary approval of the settlement.

The case centers on Albuquerque’s camera system, which started in 2005. Cameras would record vehicles running red lights or exceeding the speed limit, and citations would be mailed to the owners of the cars.

The city halted the program after voters cast ballots against it in 2011.

But even after the ballot initiative, people who owed unpaid fines faced automated collection calls.

The class-action settlement proposes to cover people or entities who received one or more calls to their cellphones by Creditwatch “using an automatic telephone dialing system and/or prerecorded or artificial voice” from Aug. 21, 2010, to Jan. 15 this year.

The defendants have agreed to spend up to $3.5 million making cash payments to people who submit qualified claims. The settlement estimates the payments would amount to about $200 each, though that figure could be reduced if more people than expected file claims.

The administrator of the settlement fund would mail postcards to members of the class and a website would be set up.

Redflex spokesman Michael Cavaiola said Monday that the proposed settlement “relates to the actions of a third-party collections agency and is unrelated to photo enforcement or the validity of the citations themselves.”

The plaintiffs in the suit are David Willett, Amber Fosse, Desert Paper and Envelope Co. Inc. and others who meet the settlement criteria.

The federal lawsuit, filed in New Mexico, estimates that Creditwatch called about 42,000 unique cellphone numbers.

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