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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA) – A state appeals court Wednesday cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit against the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority by companies that lease trailers pulled by tractor trucks.

The lawsuit stems from tolls that the expressway authority charged to the trailer companies based on a system that captures images of vehicles’ rear license tags.

The companies had leased trailers to other businesses that, in many cases, then hired tractor-truck owners to haul the trailers.

The trailer companies allege in the lawsuit that they should not have been charged tolls, which were the responsibility of the truck drivers, according to Wednesday’s ruling by a panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal.

The plaintiffs, including Tropical Trailer Leasing, L.L.C., also sought to “certify” the lawsuit as a class action. A Miami-Dade County circuit judge approved the certification, leading the expressway authority to appeal.

In a 2-1 decision Wednesday, the appellate panel allowed the class-action lawsuit to move forward. “The very nature of the claim — allegedly improper toll charges on heavily-traveled expressways with tens of thousands of pertinent billings — supports the adjudication of the claims as a class action,” said the 17-page majority opinion, written by Judge Vance Salter and joined by Judge Robert Luck.

“No single trailer owner could cost-effectively maintain such an action, seeking reimbursement for a series of charges of a few dollars per ‘Toll by Plate’ billing.” But Chief Judge Leslie Rothenberg dissented, describing as “speculative and overbroad” the circuit-court order certifying the class action.

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