MTA Rolls Dice in Lawsuit and Loses

James A. Cohen on Fox 5 News, March 01, 2010

Media Source

By LINDA SCHMIDT

MYFOXNY.COM - The cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority gambled big on a lawsuit -- and lost. The agency could have saved $4.5 million by settling with two women who were injured in a car accident with a city bus. Instead, the MTA went to a full trial and lost.

The settlement offer from two women was $3 million. But the MTA refused. Then last week, the jury awarded the women $7.5 million.

So their attorney is saying the MTA is out of control and wasting taxpayers' money.

Brenda Whaley suffered a punctured lung, spent 16 days in the hospital, and underwent 2 surgeries after a New York City bus driver ran a red light and slammed into this car she was in three years ago. Amanda Wade was also in the car; she was hurt, too.

From the beginning the women, said they wanted to settle their lawsuit with the MTA for $3 million -- or even less. Their own lawyer has said the MTA should have settled and saved taxpayer money, especially since the agency is in a financial crisis and proposing cuts to jobs and service.

"I think it's beyond negligent," said Herb Subin, the victim's attorney

The MTA is now appealing the ruling and wouldn't comment on the pending litigation.

James Cohen, an associate professor of law at Fordham University, said that taxpayers should be clearly upset. He said there was strong evidence against the MTA in this case and that its attorneys should have settled when they had the chance.

"Legally they haven't served their client well," Cohen said, "which is the taxpayer, so they haven't done a good job for their client."

Because of the appeal, the two women may not see any money for years -- if at all.