FOX 5 chief investigator Emily Miller broke this EZ pass fine story last year and has been relentless in her follow-ups.
Bernhard argued that paralegal Alexis Branch is neither a lawyer nor works for Transurban, the company that manages the lanes and is the plaintiff in these civil cases.
Branch is a contractor through a company called Faneuil. A corporation has to be present in the court or represented by a lawyer under Virginia law.
Judge Thomas Gallahue agreed with the argument and ruled that Transurban was not present in the courtroom. The judge dismissed the 62 summonses for the two defendants.
The significance of this ruling is that it calls into question all the pre-court settlements with Branch at the courthouse.
I exclusively profiled the lawyer Bernhard last week. He has developed a unique legal strategy to defend drivers facing fines of thousands of dollars for accidentally missing tolls on the lanes. Most of his cases challenging the signature on the summonses, statute of limitation and constitutionality will be heard by a judge in April.
Transurban's spokesperson Pierce Coffee told me late Wednesday that the company will address the matter in court.
Previous E-ZPass Express Lane Fine Stories by Emily Miller:
Defense attorney unveils strategy to challenge huge E-ZPass Express Lane fines
E-ZPass Express Lane Drivers who paid thousands in fines want refund
FOX 5 investigation forces changes to massive E-ZPass fines on 495 Express Lanes
Drivers face thousands of dollars in fines from E-ZPass 495 Express Lanes
Man gets $17,000 E-ZPass fine for $36 in unpaid express lane tolls