Rubbernecking of MTA Agent Will Cost New York

     (CN) – A New York City subway worker who did not summon help for police officers struggling with a suspect passed liability onto the MTA, an appeals court ruled.
     Camille San Filippo and Jannet Velez had pursued their suspect into the subway station after witnessing him committing a crime.
     Wearing plain clothes, the officers displayed their badges and asked the station agent to call for backup. The agent was locked in the token booth and could have summoned help by pushing a button or stepping on a pedal.
     Instead, he watched the officers wage a long and pitched battle to subdue the suspect. They were both hurt, and filed separate complains against the New York City Transit Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and others.
     Though a jury awarded both officers money damages, Judge Lottie Wilkins granted the transit authority judgment, finding that it agent was under no duty to get the officers help.
     The Appellate Division’s Manhattan-based First Department reversed last week.
     “Public Authorities Law 1212 (3) imposes liability on the Transit Authority for the negligence of its employees in the operation of the subway system,” the unsigned opinion states.
     The five-justice panel cited Crosland v. N.Y. Transit Authority, a 1986 case in which the transit authority was found liable for the gang-beating death of a passenger.
     “Watching someone being beaten from a vantage point offering both safety and the means to summon help without danger is within the narrow range of circumstances which could be found to be actionable,” that decision states.
     In the current case, the transit authority failed to show that the station agent would not have been able to summon help in time to save the officers from injury.
     “We decline to consider this argument as it was raised for the first time on appeal. Were we to consider the argument, we would find it unavailing,” the justices wrote.

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