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NYC Metro Not Liable for Attack by Homeless Men

(CN) - A couple who were attacked by a group of homeless men can't collect damages from New York City's transportation system, a state appeals court ruled.

Plaintiff Jane Doe and her boyfriend were walking to the Shea Stadium subway station when they were attacked by homeless men, who punched the boyfriend and raped Doe on the ramp.

The attackers then dragged Doe down the stairs and into the woods to an encampment where they lived. There, the men raped Doe again before she was finally able to escape.

The couple sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), claiming negligence in the maintenance and safety of their facilities.

The defendants knew about the homeless encampment and had launched a social outreach program to help them obtain housing, but the homeless refused to take advantage of the program, according to the ruling.

The trial court ruled for the defendants, and the justices of the 2nd Department Appellate Division affirmed. They said the defendants weren't liable, because they tried to fix the problem.

"The gravamen of the plaintiffs' complaint against the MTA/LIRR is that they failed to remove the homeless encampment and homeless individuals from their property and failed to consider the safety problems associated with the homeless outreach program," the justices wrote.

"The MTA/LIRR made a policy decision to address the issue of homelessness by employing a social outreach program, rather than by forcibly removing homeless individuals from their property. This was a discretionary government decision, for which there can be no liability."

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