Toney v. City of Dayton

Decision Date30 June 2017
Docket NumberNo. 27245,27245
Citation2017 Ohio 5618,94 N.E.3d 179
Parties Terry TONEY, et al., Plaintiffs–Appellants v. CITY OF DAYTON, et al., Defendants–Appellees
CourtOhio Court of Appeals
OPINION

TUCKER, J.

{¶ 1} Plaintiffs-appellants, Ghassan Deek, Eusebio H. Faura, Teresa K. Griffith, Thomas A. Griffith, Scott Howard, Darlene Lucas, Dean Lucas, Joe Meyer, Stacy Toney, Terry Toney, Austin Troxell and Charles Grant Vandervort, appeal from the decision of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in their civil actions contesting notices of civil liability issued under Dayton, Trotwood and West Carrollton municipal ordinances implementing automated traffic enforcement systems. In its decision, the trial court overruled Appellants' motions for summary judgment and class certification, and sustained the competing motions for summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings of Defendants-appellees, the City of Dayton; Chief Richard S. Biehl of the Dayton Police Department; the City of Trotwood; Quincy E. Pope, Sr., Public Safety Director and Deputy City Manager for the City of Trotwood; the City of West Carrollton; Chief Doug Woodard of the West Carrollton Police Department; and RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc. Appellants argue that the trial court erred when it determined that the cities' automated traffic enforcement ordinances are not facially unconstitutional pursuant to Article I, Section 16, Ohio Constitution. We concur with the trial court's determination. Therefore, we affirm.

I. Facts and Procedural History

{¶ 2} The ordinances at issue (collectively, the "Ordinances")Revised Code of General Ordinances of the City of Dayton, Ohio [hereinafter R.C.G.O.] 70.121; City of Trotwood Code of Ordinances [hereinafter TCO] 313.11 and 333.09; and Codified Ordinances of West Carrollton, Ohio [hereinafter WCCO] 72.130—implement automated traffic enforcement systems. Under the Ordinances, automatic camera stations are installed at selected locations to detect red-light and speed-limit violations. When a vehicle is photographed in the midst of a violation, a notice of civil liability is mailed to the owner of the vehicle. The owner may then pay the monetary penalty or request an administrative hearing to contest the notice.

{¶ 3} Appellants Ghassan Deek, Teresa Griffith, Thomas Griffith, Stacy Toney, Terry Toney and Charles Vandervort commenced Case No. 2014 CV 01713 in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on March 25, 2014.1 With the exception of Thomas Griffith and Stacy Toney, all of them received at least one notice of civil liability from the City of Dayton. None of the recipients requested an administrative hearing.

{¶ 4} Appellants Scott Howard, Joe Meyer and Austin Troxell commenced Case No. 2014 CV 03292 in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on June 4, 2014. All of them received at least one notice of civil liability from the City of West Carrollton. Mr. Howard received two notices and did not request an administrative hearing in response to either of them. Mr. Meyer received three notices and requested a hearing in response to one. Mr. Troxell received two notices and requested a hearing in each instance.

{¶ 5} Appellants Scott Howard, Darlene Lucas and Dean Lucas commenced Case No. 2014 CV 03494 on June 4, 2014, though they subsequently filed an amended complaint to join Appellant Eusebio Faura as an additional plaintiff.2 Messrs. Faura and Howard each received a notice of civil liability from the City of Trotwood, and neither requested an administrative hearing in response. Darlene Lucas and Dean Lucas did not receive notices from the City of Trotwood.

{¶ 6} In a series of orders entered on July 29 and July 30, 2014, the trial court consolidated the three cases. The complaint in each case consists of essentially the same four causes of action. Count I is a cause of action for declaratory judgment concerning the jurisdiction of the administrative tribunals established by the Ordinances. Count II, also a cause of action for declaratory judgment, concerns the constitutional validity of the Ordinances pursuant to the due process clause of the Ohio Constitution. Count III is a request for injunctive relief, and Count IV is a claim of unjust enrichment. At Appellants' request, and without opposition, the trial court dismissed Count I in all three cases on March 1, 2016.3

{¶ 7} On August 8, 2016, the trial court entered a final decision in the consolidated cases, resolving a number of dispositive motions. In Case No. 2014 CV 01713, the court:

a. overruled the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment;
b. overruled the plaintiffs' motion for class certification;
c. sustained the motion of Defendants, the City of Dayton and Chief Richard Biehl, for summary judgment; and
d. sustained the motion of Defendant, RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc., for summary judgment.

In Case No. 2014 CV 03292, the court:

a. overruled the plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings;
b. overruled the plaintiffs' motion for class certification;
c. sustained the motion of Defendants, the City of West Carrollton and Chief Doug Woodard, for summary judgment; and
d. sustained the motion of Defendant, RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc., for summary judgment.

And in Case No. 2014 CV 03294, the court:

a. overruled the plaintiffs' motion for judgment on the pleadings;
b. overruled the plaintiffs' motion for class certification;
c. sustained the motion of Defendants, the City of Trotwood and Quincy Pope, Sr. for judgment on the pleadings; and
d. sustained the motion of Defendant, RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc., for summary judgment.
II. Appellants' First Assignment of Error

{¶ 8} For the first of their two assignments of error, Appellants contend that:

THE TRIAL COURT INCORRECTLY CONCLUDED THAT THE AUTOMATIC TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT SYSTEMS DID NOT VIOLATE THE DUE COURSE OF LAW PROVISIONS OF THE OHIO CONSTITUTION.

{¶ 9} Appellants raise a facial challenge to the Ordinances, arguing that they violate the Ohio Constitution because they fail to provide sufficient procedural due process guarantees. A facial constitutional challenge posits that "a statute, ordinance, or administrative rule, on its face and under all circumstances, has no rational relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose," a high standard made all the more difficult to meet because it requires "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." Wymsylo v. Bartec, Inc. , 132 Ohio St.3d 167, 2012-Ohio-2187, 970 N.E.2d 898, ¶ 21, citing Jaylin Invs., Inc. v. Vill. of Moreland Hills , 107 Ohio St.3d 339, 2006-Ohio-4, 839 N.E.2d 903, ¶ 11 ; State ex rel. Ohio Congress of Parents & Teachers v. State Bd. of Educ. , 111 Ohio St.3d 568, 2006-Ohio-5512, 857 N.E.2d 1148, ¶ 21. Reference "to extrinsic facts is not required to resolve a facial challenge," and when evaluating an ordinance by this standard, a court should not "speculate about ‘hypothetical’ or ‘imaginary’ cases." Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party , 552 U.S. 442, 449–450, 128 S.Ct. 1184, 170 L.Ed. 2d 151 (2008), citing United States v. Raines , 362 U.S. 17, 22, 80 S.Ct. 519, 4 L.Ed.2d 524 (1960) ; Wymsylo , 132 Ohio St.3d 167, 2012-Ohio-2187, 970 N.E.2d 898, ¶ 21, citing Washington State Grange , 552 U.S. at 450, 128 S.Ct. 1184, and City of Reading v. Pub. Util. Comm'n , 109 Ohio St.3d 193, 2006-Ohio-2181, 846 N.E.2d 840, ¶ 15.

{¶ 10} All "legislation, including municipal ordinances, [is] entitled to a strong presumption of constitutionality." (Citation omitted.) Cleveland Taxpayers for Ohio Constitution v. City of Cleveland , 8th Dist. Cuyahoga No. 94327, 2010-Ohio-4685, 2010 WL 3816393, ¶ 7. As a result, courts should "liberally construe [a challenged ordinance] in order to save it from constitutional infirmities." Id. , citing City of Lebanon v. McClure , 44 Ohio App.3d 114, 116, 541 N.E.2d 1073 (12th Dist. 1988). If, by " ‘any fair course of reasoning, the [ordinance] and the constitution can be reconciled, [then] the [ordinance] must stand.’ " Id. , quoting State v. Carswell , 114 Ohio St.3d 210, 2007-Ohio-3723, 871 N.E.2d 547, ¶ 9.

{¶ 11} Article I, Section 16 of the Ohio Constitution states, in relevant part, that persons who suffer physical harm or harm to their "land[s], goods, * * * or reputation[s], shall have remedy by due course of law"; this is "the equivalent of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution." Stetter v. R.J. Corman Derailment Servs., L.L.C. , 125 Ohio St.3d 280, 2010-Ohio-1029, 927 N.E.2d 1092, ¶ 69. The "fundamental requirement of [procedural] due process is the opportunity to be heard ‘at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.’ " Mathews v. Eldridge , 424 U.S. 319, 333, 96 S.Ct. 893, 47 L.Ed.2d 18 (1976), quoting Armstrong v. Manzo , 380 U.S. 545, 552, 85 S.Ct. 1187, 14 L.Ed.2d 62 (1965). In reviewing an ordinance "on due-process grounds, [a court should] apply a rational-basis...

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  • State v. Eaton
    • United States
    • Ohio Court of Appeals
    • July 15, 2022
    ...rule, or ordinance, it must be shown that the law or rule cannot be applied constitutionally in any circumstances. Toney v. City of Dayton, 2017-Ohio-5618, 94 N.E.3d 179, ¶ 23 (2d Dist.), citing Wymsylo v. Bartec, Inc. , 132 Ohio St.3d 167, 2012-Ohio-2187, 970 N.E.2d 898, ¶ 21. "The fact th......
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    • Ohio Court of Appeals
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    ...whether ASEP provided sufficient due process guarantees to those who received a notice of liability. See Toney v. City of Dayton , 2d Dist. Montgomery, 2017-Ohio-5618, 94 N.E.3d 179, ¶ 11.1 Trial court's decision{¶19} The trial court's decision, which predated Walker , found that ASEP lacke......
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