Home Asides Stranded A train riders set to sue

Stranded A train riders set to sue

by Benjamin Kabak

As the MTA deals with the fallout from its response to last week’s blizzard — the Daily News would like the authority to overreact to even just a slight threat of snow — lawsuits over stalled trains were all but inevitable. Now, we learn that Aymen Aboushi of the Aboushi Law Firm is looking for plaintiffs who were stuck on the stranded A train want to join a suit against the authority.

Aboushi says that seven passengers are willing to join him in filing a suit, and he hopes to court more. He’s seeking, according to amNew York, an “unspecified amount of money” and “will demand the MTA create guidelines for what to do if passengers are left on a train for more than three hours.” How altruistic of him. “No one’s trying to get rich off this,” the lawyer said to the News recently. “This is to hold the MTA accountable for what happened. We’re really trying to get the MTA’s attention for the average New Yorker.”

The stranded A train was the victim of a perfect storm last week. Stuck in between the Aqueduct stop and Howard Beach when the snow knocked out power to the third rail, the train could not be rescued, and passengers were stuck in the cold for six to eight hours. While Aboushi claims those stranded were left without heat, the MTA says the passengers were brought into two heated cars. Still, the lawyer wants an accounting. “The MTA,” he said, “didn’t offer these people so much as a MetroCard.”

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Edward January 4, 2011 - 12:16 pm

Wow, that was quick. Thank you stranded passengers for preparing to pick the pockets of your fellow New Yorkers because you decided to go to JFK during a f*ing blizzard. The balls on NYers are really huge.

Joseph January 4, 2011 - 1:03 pm

This is what the MTA gets for not putting plows on trains…

mysterzip January 4, 2011 - 1:31 pm

In other news – MTA eyes a fare hike after losing $1B in lawsuits.

Scott E January 4, 2011 - 1:48 pm

I caught part of a news story where an NYCT train operator was being interviewed – don’t know if it was the TO of this train, but it sure could have been. He expressed shock when his supervisors (via radio fro a comfortable undisclosed location) told him to continue out of the tunnel along the route. He had to keep getting out of the train to clear off signals and remove snow from under the trip-levers, not knowing for sure where the third rail was beneath him because of the snow. He did it because, like everyone else, he wanted to get off that godforsaken train and get home.

I can only imagine the abuse he took from passengers each time he stepped out of the cab and off the train. Poor guy knew it was a bad idea to proceed out of the tunnel: the reasons were literally in front of his face, but he was ordered to do so anyway.

Edward January 4, 2011 - 1:56 pm

No win situation. Imaging how pissy the riders would have been had NYCT not allowed ANY trains to run. They would have been up in arms screaming about what an outrage, I pay good money for these trains, the system is gone to hell, blah, blah, blah!! Then they would have sued for being stranded at JFK/Howard Beach. It was a damn blizzard for God’s sake. STAY HOME!

John January 4, 2011 - 2:50 pm

What law are they claiming was broken, or what damages are they claiming? Sitting on a train for hours sucks, but it’s hardly “damaging.”

Benjamin Kabak January 4, 2011 - 2:51 pm

Probably some sort of negligent infliction of emotional distress. Despite what the lawyer claims, it’s a money grab.

Eric F. January 4, 2011 - 4:10 pm

This is somewhat interesting. On the one hand, certainly it’s not the passengers fault that the train was stuck. To the extent that the situation was in anyone’s control, it’s the MTA’s. That said, you can see a slippery slope here. If one is delayed 30 minutes and misses a job interview, is there a damage claim? If this actually gets to court (and these days, is there any doubt it will), the anwswer is to simply award, if anything, nominal damages of $1 or something to take the profit motive out of this type of thing. I’m sure once this suit gets going there will be thousands of people who claim that they were on this train.

NattyB January 5, 2011 - 5:38 pm

“negligent infliction of emotional distress”

This lacks the proper elements for a NIED claim.

I’m guessing wrongful imprisonment.

Still, weak tea.

Give the riders a free metrocard for a year.

Farro January 4, 2011 - 8:57 pm

You are too quick to blame the riders–they were going *away* from JFK. Which means they weren’t going there during a blizzard, they *arrived* during one. That they would arrive during a blizzard is something they were unlikely to know when booking their plane tickets to New York (and arguably unlikely to know when they were booking their plane tickets from New York too).

Not that this isn’t an obvious money grab.

Andrew January 4, 2011 - 10:40 pm

Some of them were probably also going to the airport, trying to catch their flights, only to find that there were no flights. How late were airlines continuing to tell their customers to go to the airport?

Alon Levy January 4, 2011 - 11:59 pm

Maybe the MTA should change its slogan to “Screwing you slightly less than the airlines.”

Jesse January 4, 2011 - 2:50 pm

“The MTA,” he said, “didn’t offer these people so much as a MetroCard.”

I would like to start a petition asking the MTA to settle with each of the plaintiffs for one monthly MetroCard, and I am sure Aboushi will agree to accept that.

digamma January 4, 2011 - 6:29 pm

I can’t seem to get this straight: were they forcibly kept on the train, or were they just stranded on the train because there was nowhere else to go? Could I have gotten off and started wandering home through the snowy streets of Queens if I’d wanted to?

Andrew January 4, 2011 - 10:43 pm

According to one of the articles, passengers were allowed to use the station restroom. Presumably that means they were allowed off the train onto the platform. And from there they could have left the station.

So it seems like those who remained on the train did so because it was the lesser of two evils.

warren January 4, 2011 - 6:37 pm

There are always ‘Ambulance Chasers’ in the crowd looking to get billable hours for a failing Law practice.

Alon Levy January 4, 2011 - 8:44 pm

The number one cause of ambulance chasing is ambulances. Don’t forget that.

Justin Samuels January 5, 2011 - 2:26 am

I recall one passenger being treated from exposure from being trapped on the train for 7 hours. Perhaps they got chilled. And though this didn’t happened, imagine if a pregnant woman gave birth on the train and lost the baby!!!

The MTA should not have left passengers stranded on a train like that. They should have somehow gotten them to a safe, warm place. I think it should have to pay out money.

Mike January 5, 2011 - 7:46 am

I agree, for the most part. Despite our awareness that this suit carries less than good intentions, that doesn’t change the fact that the MTA could have handled this storm better. Not running the trains would have left people furious, of course, but it wouldn’t have left people exposed to the cold for several hours. These people are angry (possibly stupid too if the travel was unnecessary), but the MTA still carries the blame. The trains are their area of expertise and they messed up on this one. Obviously, I wish reform didn’t have to be discussed over a lawsuit.


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