Former Providence mayor’s law firm hired to defend city against speed camera lawsuit

Angel Taveras_291668

Former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and his law firm have been hired to defend the city against a class-action lawsuit challenging multiple facets of the city’s new speed camera program.

Greenberg Traurig LLP was hired as the city’s outside legal counsel because it has “a lot of experience with class-action lawsuits,” according to city solicitor Jeff Dana. He confirmed Taveras will be one of the attorneys working on the case.

It was not immediately clear how much the firm will be paid.

Six Rhode Island residents and a car leasing company filed the lawsuit in Superior Court challenging multiple facets of the city of Providence’s speed camera program, including the language used on speeding tickets, the court that handles violations and the $95 fine itself.

The suit asks a judge to grant a temporary restraining order blocking the city from issuing any new speed camera violations or collecting on existing tickets and require the city repay any members of the class who received a speeding ticket from one of the cameras

The first hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Monday morning before Superior Court Judge Maureen Keough. The plaintiffs are represented by former Democratic state Reps. Peter Wasylyk and Peter Petrarca.

The lawsuit was filed after the city said it issued more than 12,000 speeding tickets in the first 33 days of its speed camera program, which started in January. A Municipal Court judge ended up dismissing dozens of tickets, although the city has been unable to say exactly how many violations were tossed out.

Municipal Court has also postponed two scheduled night-session hearings for motorists wishing to challenge their speeding tickets so Keough can hold an initial hearing on the lawsuit in Superior Court.

Taveras, a Democrat, served as mayor between 2011 and 2015. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, finishing second in the primary behind current Gov. Gina Raimondo.

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Dan McGowan ( covers politics, education and the city of Providence for Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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