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Red-light camera firm set to settle N.J. lawsuit

Drivers caught by cameras in five towns, including Cherry Hill, could get partial refunds of their fines.

Drivers caught by red-light cameras in five New jersey towns before August 2012 could get a partial refund of their fines under a proposed settlement.

Lawyers for plaintiffs filed papers in U.S. District Court in Trenton on Friday outlining a settlement with Phoenix-based Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.

Drivers sued Redflex and the towns where it operates cameras, claiming that drivers were ticketed in part because yellow lights were too short. The plaintiffs contend that the yellows - abbreviated by tenths of a second - were short because the timing was not checked according to the schedule required by state law.

That has been one of the main complaints about red-light cameras around the country and in New Jersey, where 25 communities have permission to use them as part of a five-year trial that started in 2010. Advocates say the lights make roads safer.

Under the agreement, the company would pay $2.1 million to return 10 percent of the fines to drivers who received tickets in the towns through Aug 1, 2012. Lead plaintiffs could receive up to $200 each, and the company would pay the plaintiffs' lawyers fees.

A special master, former U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Rosen, would also evaluate the technology to ensure it complies with law. The company would also educate the public about the cameras and violations, including a video explaining how the process works.

The towns are Cherry Hill, Edison, Englewood, Newark, and Stratford.

A hearing is set for May 22 for a formal motion to allow the settlement. If the deal is approved, the claims would be dismissed against the municipal governments named as defendants in the class-action filing.