Update (October 7, 2016) -- The lawsuit was dismissed on Thursday, October 6.
City of Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard’s released this statement on the dismissal of the federal class-action lawsuit: “We are pleased with this decision that confirms our view that this case was frivolous and needed to be dismissed to preserve justice and the procedures used by many cities and towns across Indiana.”
CARMEL, Ind (Jan. 12, 2016)- The City of Carmel is facing a class action lawsuit accusing the city of unlawfully issuing thousands of traffic tickets based on an invalid city ordinance.
The lawsuit accuses Carmel of illegally collecting money from citations for the purpose of increasing revenue.
Rather than distribute the money collected by traffic fines with the county and states as required in many cases--the lawsuit accuses Carmel of pocketing the cash in some scenarios.
"It violates state law, it violates civil rights and they are abusing they’re authority," said attorney Ed Bielski of Bielski Law LLC.
Bielski is the Indianapolis attorney behind the federal class action lawsuit filed against the City of Carmel.
"What they did is they took state code and they hijacked it and pretended it was theirs and kept the money. That’s inappropriate," said Bielski.
The lawsuit argues that Carmel adopted the existing Indiana state law for traffic violations and is wrongfully writing tickets under Carmel's §8-2 ordinance.
"You can’t duplicate state law. They are doing something directly contrary to state law," said Bielski.
Bielski says he is in the early discovery phase of his class action lawsuit but he has reason to believe Carmel is using this ordinance for financial gain.
"In life usually your answer is follow the money. When you pay a ticket you expect the money is going to go where it's supposed to go. You don’t expect them to pocket it," said Bielski.
The lawsuit will attempt to stop Carmel from collecting money from traffic violations, clear driver records and recover lost money.
The City of Carmel provided a written response to the lawsuit.
“The City will appeal the court’s decision. We believe our Code of Ordinances complies with Indiana law and incorporating certain state law violations into City Code is permissible under Home Rule and other applicable state law. Pending traffic cases are being reviewed.”
The Indiana Court of Appeals repealed the current traffic ordinance in December because of its similarities to the state law.