Fed up Long Island Rail Road commuters have leveled a class action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, claiming that chronically delayed, canceled and inadequate service amounts to breach of contract and even intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Proposed class members “have suffered discipline at work, loss of job interviews, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, physical distress and have had current physical ailments … aggravated,” alleges the lawsuit filed in Nassau County Supreme Court by plaintiffs-side employment and civil rights lawyer Paul Liggieri.
The plaintiffs seek compensatory and other damages as well as reimbursement for additional amounts paid per a fare hike.
The lawsuit names two lead plaintiffs and proposes a class of LIRR riders who bought monthly passes for May. In an interview Monday, Liggieri said that he chose May because of its high number of service interruptions. He noted that extensive repairs are underway at Penn Station, kicking off what Gov. Andrew Cuomo has dubbed the “summer of hell” for commuters, so the suit’s time frame may expand.
Liggieri, with Derek Smith Law Group in Manhattan, is an LIRR commuter. He first conceived the action, he said, after being confronted by fellow commuters who said: “Paul, you need to do something about this!”
He said intentional infliction of emotional distress is a “high bar to prove,” requiring extreme and outrageous conduct, but that MTA actions meet it.
“What’s extreme and outrageous is when you go on a platform and it’s so crowded it looks like a 100 people could fall off,” he said.
Monthly tickets range from $190 to $500, according to Jacobs v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, filed June 10.
MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan declined to comment, citing the authority’s “usual policy” of not commenting on pending or proposed litigation.