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City of Argo facing lawsuit over ticketing drivers on I-59

Argo city seal

ARGO -- A lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging that an Argo police officer ignored state law when he issued a reckless driving ticket on Interstate 59, sidestepping a statute that forbids some municipalities from issuing speeding tickets along interstates.

The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Gregory Yaghmai with Rutledge & Yaghmai, Abbey Clarkson with Lloyd & Hogan, and Wesley Phillips with Phillips Law Group, LLC, all of whom are from Birmingham. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Alabama on behalf of Jason M. Jackson and “those similarly situated.”

The lawsuit was filed against the City of Argo and specifically named Argo Police Officer Glenn Wells.

The lawsuit states that the St. Clair County Circuit Court granted an acquittal of the reckless driving charge against Jackson, who was accused of speeding on Interstate 59.

“The City of Argo’s schedule of fines for traffic violations even recognizes that speeding 25 more miles per hour over the speed limit, alone, is aggravated speeding and not reckless driving,” the lawsuit states. “However, under Alabama law, Wells was not a duly authorized law enforcement officer entitled to write citations for speeding on Alabama interstates.”

The lawsuit states that municipalities or towns with fewer than 19,000 residents cannot enforce speeding laws on Alabama interstates and that Jackson was stopped for no other reason than the speed the officer alleged Jackson’s vehicle was traveling.

“The City of Argo had less than 19,000 inhabitants on Aug. 8, 2015, (when Jackson was cited for reckless driving) and continues to have less than 19,000 inhabitants,” the lawsuit states. “Due to the actions of the Defendants, City of Argo and Glenn Wells, Plaintiff was unlawfully and illegally seized and falsely placed under the threat of imprisonment and suffered damages as result, including, but not limited to, shame, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress, loss of sleep, stomach distress, headaches, anger, anxiety, fear, frustration, amongst other negative emotions, as well as out of pocket expenses for bonds and attorney fees.”

The lawsuit states that a reckless driving offense could include both a fine and jail time.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff seeks monetary damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

“That Plaintiff and those similarly situated recover such actual damages as this Court shall find proper, together with such double, treble, punitive, or exemplary damages as the law shall permit,” the lawsuit states.

Mayor Betty Bradley said Monday that the city received a copy of the lawsuit last week. She informed the City Council about the lawsuit during Monday night’s meeting.

Bradley said she could not comment further about the pending litigation, but the matter was turned over to the city’s insurance company, which she said, will assign an attorney to represent the city.