Abstract from the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona, Ed Severson's column, 16 February,
1984, titled. 'Fenwick Island Delaware Could Go Bankrupt'.
Fenwick Island, a 'spot' on the map, population 125 people , isn't the kind of place that makes national news. It's at the southeastern tip of Delaware just before you go into Maryland. The only reason most people pay attention to it is because its on a 'short cut' Baltimore people use to get to Maryland's beaches to get out of snarling traffic.
The Wall Street Journal, calls it a 'speed trap'. Catching 'speeders' is one of it's big sources
of income. A few years ago it was learned that the town officials actually 'planned on' raising $40,000
of the annual budget by 'speeders', with fines from $35 to $50.
However, among the hundreds of motorist the Fenwick Island police ticketed was Abraham
P. Korotiki, a Baltimore Maryland lawyer. Korutki was the wrong person to ticket. He sued
At court he said he wasn't speeding, he was followed into Maryland before he was stopped, wasent even in Delaware and besides, the cop had pointed his gun at a passenger in the car. It came out in court who Fenwick town officials 'planned' on picking off motorist to the tune of $40,000.
Korotki's story was so persuasive the the Federal Court jury that heard the case, awarded
$100,000 in punitive damages and another $10,000 to pay legal fees. In addition the police chief
was found liable for $2500 because the jury did not like the way he allowed his cops to chase
drivers across state lines. You can see the possible financial ruin of Fenwick Island lies ahead.
There is one popular way to 'trap' speeders to obtain a nice supply of them, that is, place the highway speed of 55 mph sigh along the road, just 20 yards before the town speed limit sign of 25
mph, the sign the town cops hides behind.
To make a set up like this pay off big, a lot of speeders has to be caught. At $35 or $50 a ticket,
to earn $40,000 , you need 800 speeders at least. It's easy to imagine that Fenwick Island has been picking off a lot of people who did not deserve tickets. Average people, working people, who do not have the resource to defend themselves.
Picture this guy, sweating on the job all week, now caught in bumper to bumper traffic , trying
to get the wife and kids, now at the snarling point, to the beach, now fishing through his wallet for his license, finds he has to pay the $50 he has saved for a good dinner, going to this godforsaken place, for a bogus speeding ticket.
A legal lynching” cried the Fenwick Island lawyer to the $10,000 legal fee award to Korotki . The lawyer could be right, it sounds like the Fenwick Island town officials know as much about legal lynching as does anyone else in America. Fenwick Island now has a big problem. There is not much to the town, alderman's court, police station, two police cars. The Federal court judgment may well exceed the towns assets.
The Baltimore judge was asked to throwout the award, but Korotki said he would be disappointed, and said he would fight it. That does not look like it would be too hard to do.
Korotki would wipe this place right off the maps.
Absract: Harrison Howeth, Lewes, De.. July 16 2017.