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Dead People Excluded From Toll Class

MANHATTAN (CN) - A federal judge narrowed the scope of a class action against the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority for selective discounts on New York City tolls for E-ZPass drivers.

The class was previously so broad that it included dead people, the judge found.

Four plaintiffs, led by Riva Janes, claimed the policy unconstitutionally withheld discounts from certain drivers, in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

They moved for class certification on Sept. 2, 2010, to include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania residents who paid regular rates while crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge or the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones granted certification on Oct. 5, 2011.

Days later, the case was reassigned to her colleague, Judge Paul Engelmayer, who agreed to revisit the ruling.

In an 11-page order, Engelmayer said the terms of the previous class certification were so broad they included dead and unlicensed drivers.

"(D)efendants argue, persons who are deceased, or who no longer have driver's licenses, lack a personal stake in forward-looking relief," the order summarized. "The Court agrees."

The previous class also included drivers who had not crossed the bridges in question for years.

"(D)efendants argue, persons who have not driven over any one of the three bridges during the two years prior to the Court's October 5, 2011 certification order lack standing to seek injunctive or declarative relief. The Court agrees," the order states. "Although an out-of-state resident who crossed one of the bridges years ago conceivably may do so again, where the resident has not done so in the past two years, it is not persuasive to classify such a person among those 'realistically threatened' with injury from the differential toll policy."

Engelmayer revised the definition to encompass "all users of E-ZPass who, while residing in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Connecticut, and who, since January 17, 2000, paid tolls at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, or the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge without the benefit of the resident discount that has been made available by defendants for residents of specific locations in New York State. Excluded from the class are: (1) current residents of Staten Island, the Rockaway Peninsula, and Broad Channel; (2) persons who no longer have a driver's license or who are no longer living; and (3) persons who have not crossed any of the bridges at issue within the two years preceding October 5, 2011. Also excluded from the class are defendants and any and all of their respective affiliates, legal representatives, heirs, successors, employees, or assignees."

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