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A group of New Jersey residents recently filed a motion in a federal lawsuit seeking to certify a proposed class of motorists and passengers who allegedly suffered harm as a result of the infamous “Bridgegate” scandal in 2013 that involved politically motivated closures of lanes and on-ramps over the George Washington Bridge. In the scandal, a group of officials in former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s office and in the Port Authority conspired to create traffic delays as retaliation against the then-mayor of Fort Lee for his refusal to endorse Christie in his reelection bid.
The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a proposed class of motorists and commuters who were affected by the Bridgegate scandal. The Cohens alleged that they spent hours in traffic trying to cross the George Washington Bridge to get to a medical appointment in Queens, while Cataldo also alleged that he was delayed on his way to work.
The plaintiffs are seeking to recover compensation for losses allegedly suffered by the proposed class, including loss of time and wages, fuel spent sitting in traffic, and misused toll funds. In support of their motion, plaintiffs presented an expert report from a transportation economist who calculated that the Bridgegate scandal affected over 31,000 drivers and passengers and resulted in $5 million in lost wages, $30,500 in wasted fuel, and $331,000 in misused tolls.
The motion for class certification comes following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the criminal convictions of the then-executive director of the Port Authority, William Baroni, and the deputy chief of staff to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Bridget Ann Kelly. The Court ruled that while Baroni and Kelly may have abused their positions, their conduct did not amount to a federal crime.
The current civil lawsuit dates back to an action filed in January 2013 that sought damages from Baroni, Kelly, the Port Authority, and another Port Authority executive. The state of New Jersey and the Chris Christie campaign were previously dismissed from the action. The lawsuit was also consolidated with another action filed by taxi, livery, and transportation companies.
The Port Authority filed a brief opposing class certification on grounds that each class member would require an individualized assessment of their damages. Specifically, the Port Authority argued that individual facts would be required to resolve issues such as whether a purported class member was delayed by the Bridgegate closures, why they were delayed, and whether they actually suffered any calculable financial loss due to the closures and delays. The Port Authority further objected to the plaintiffs’ proposal to determine class membership by referring to E-Z Pass toll records, arguing that the use of those records in such a manner would violate New Jersey and New York privacy laws and would also exclude those affected individuals who paid tolls by cash.
The plaintiffs’ case is captioned Galicki et al v. State of New Jersey et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The class plaintiffs are being represented by Michael J. Epstein and Barry D. Epstein of The Epstein Law Firm.
Did you or a loved one incur damages and financial losses due to a civil rights violation in New Jersey? Right now, you need an aggressive civil rights attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients harmed in Fair Lawn, Fort Lee, Garfield, Mahwah, and throughout New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.
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