Overcrowding Blamed for NYC Subway Passenger's Fatal Fall

TASA ID: 1013

A 63-year-old woman fell from a subway platform located at the intersections of 74th Street, Broadway and Roosevelt Avenue, Queens, New York. She landed on the subway tracks, her head struck one of the rails and she sustained a fatal injury. The plaintiff's counsel alleged that the New York City Transit Authority negligently failed to ensure the safety of the platform passengers.

The plaintiff counsel claimed that the fall was a product of an overcrowded platform and contended that the deceased, who required the assistance of a cane, was knocked from the platform. Counsel claimed that the accident occurred during a moment when express and local trains were simultaneously discharging and receiving passengers, crowding the platform queuing area. The plaintiff counsel also contended that the New York City Transit Authority had retained four platform conductors who were supposed to monitor the overcrowded platform until 10:00 AM, when the rush-hour period concluded, but their supervisor had discharged the platform conductors early.

The plaintiff expert measured the platform's dimensions and determined that 4,596 square feet were available for passenger queuing (exclusive of the tactile strip hazard area at the edges of the platform). The New York City Transit Authority estimated that 660 passengers occupied the platform at the time of the incident, and based on the expert's measurements, each person would have approximately 7 square feet in which to move. The expert noted that the New York City Transit Authority's minimum "Level of Service B" standard specifies that passengers must have at least 10 to 13 square feet of available space and that anything less is considered an overcrowded platform. The expert opined that the fall occurred when the platform was overcrowded.

The defense counsel contended that the platform had 6,655 square feet of usable space for queuing, which would have provided 10.08 square feet for each of the 660 passengers who was present at the time of the accident. Defense counsel did not present documentation that supported this calculation. Defense counsel also contended that the station's supervisor retained the discretion to discharge the platform conductors and claimed that they were needed to perform errands away from the station.

The jury found that the New York City Transit Authority was liable for the accident and determined that the plaintiff's damages totaled $2.7 million.

 This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances. Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA.

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Tasa ID1013

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