The plaintiffs in a putative class action lawsuit over the recent "Bridgegate" scandal have asked a federal judge to grant class certification to their case, which alleges millions of commuters and business suffered financially as a result of now-infamous George Washington Bridge lane closures.
Hundreds of thousands of commuters and businesses residing in Bergen County lost wages, tuition, and were otherwise harmed as a result.
A brief supporting the potential plaintiffs’ motion for certification claims a class action is the most efficient way of handling the suit, which was filed against the state of New Jersey, its governor, Chris Christie, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and some of its top executives, and several executives of the governor’s administration.
“It is expected that hundreds of thousands of commuters and businesses residing in Bergen County lost wages, tuition, and were otherwise harmed as a result of the defendants’ politically motivated dedicated lane closures in Fort Lee,” the brief claims. “Thousands of individual suits seeking, for example, four hours-worth of lost wages in this matter would cause a huge and unnecessary burden on the court system for what some may perceive to be small quantifiable damages.”
If certified, the class would include more than 918,000 residents and 106,000 businesses in Bergen County, NJ, and more than 105,000 EZ-Pass commuters who travel eastbound into New York City via the George Washington Bridge (GWB). This does not include commuters who pay cash to travel eastbound over the bridge nor thousands who commute to work on the New Jersey side of the GWB who also may have been affected by the lane closures.
It has been speculated that the George Washington Bridge, a vital link that connects Northern New Jersey residents and New York City, was the target of unnecessary lane closures that led to severe traffic delays between September 9 and 13 of last year as a means of “political retaliation” against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. Analysts have said the lane closures were the Christie administration’s response to Mayor Sokolich’s refusal to endorse the governor’s reelection bid. Despite evidence in the form of emails and texts suggesting members of the governor’s administration deliberately caused the lane closures, Governor Christie has vehemently denied any knowledge of his “deceitful staff’s” plans, saying he and other high-ranking officials thought the lanes were closed for a “traffic study.”
The suit filed by commuters and residents joins another putative class action filed by a group of New Jersey car companies whose employees claim the lane closures caused them to lose jobs and compensation, become “falsely imprisoned in their vehicles,” and incur other economic, physical, and emotional damages.
What do you think of the class actions filed against New Jersey’s governor? Were you involved in any ‘Bridgegate’ traffic jams? Let us know in the comments below.