Skip to content

Some recent public authorities court decisions

March 20, 2012

Economic development

  • The Fourth Department recently reviewed a case involving Empire Zone tax benefits, reversing the lower court and upholding an administrative decision revoking a company’s certification as a qualified Empire Zone enterprise. As the court explained, the revocation was valid and rationally based on data in the company’s annual reports, which showed that it failed to produce more than $1 in job benefits for each $1 in state tax incentives it received. [In the Matter of J-P Group, LLC v. New York State Department of Economic Development, 2012 NY Slip Op. 634 (4th Dept. Jan. 31, 2012)]

Employment discrimination

  • Employment discrimination claims brought by ten black and hispanic plaintiffs against the MTA were dismissed because the plaintiffs failed to meet their initial burden of showing that the MTA’s actions occurred under circumstances leading to an inference of discrimination. There were issues of fact to resolve with regard to the plaintiffs’ hostile work environment claims, however, making summary judgment on those counts inappropriate. [Davis v. MTA, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30761 (SDNY Mar. 6, 2012)]
  • The Port Authority cannot share liability under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act with security companies at a Ground Zero construction site, where a supervisor allegedly shared Klan literature with a black, whistle-blowing fire safety worker, a federal judge ruled. [Goodman v. Port Authority, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26401 (SDNY Feb. 29, 2012)] [Courthouse News Service]

Excessive force

  • In an action brought against two Port Authority police offers alleging that they tackled and beat the plaintiff as he was walking into JFK, without provocation, the court refused to grant summary judgment on the excessive force claim brought against one of the officers because issues of material fact existed that were inappropriate for summary dismissal. However, there was no evidence that the other officer used excessive force and the plaintiff’s complaint against him was dismissed. [Ahmad v. Port Auth. of N.Y. & N.J., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152060 (EDNY Dec. 7, 2011)]

International law

  • In a case where a Canadian tractor-trailer driver exceeded provisions of the Vehicle and Traffic Law and damaged the underside of a Thruway Authority bridge, the Third Department held that service by mail was permitted under the Hague Conventions. [Thruway Auth. v. Fenech, 2012 NY Slip Op. 1167 (3d Dept. Feb. 16, 2012)]


  • The Court of Claims held that it was without jurisdiction to hear a claim for injuries sustained while the plaintiff was snowmobiling on property maintained by the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, a public corporation. As the court explained, the legislation controlling river regulating districts contained no specific grant of jurisdiction to the Court of Claims, and the district’s operations were not so closely linked with state functions as to be essentially the state itself. [Ryan v. State of New York, 2011 NY Slip Op. 21477 (Ct. Cl. Dec. 20, 2011)]


  • The Port Authority was denied summary judgment in a negligence suit filed by a woman who tripped and fell on a raised portion of sidewalk adjacent to the George Washington Bridge Park. Under New York City law, the owner of real property abutting a sidewalk—in this case, the Port Authority—has the duty to maintain that sidewalk and is liable for any injuries caused by its failure to do so. The court found that the Port Authority was not entitled to governmental immunity because a public entity acting as a landlord does so in its proprietary capacity and can be held liable for failing to maintain and repair the premises just as a private entity. [Nunez v. City of New York, 2012 NY Slip Op. 30187U (Sup. Ct. NY Co., January 24, 2012)]
  • Ditto.  [Kupfer v. City of New York, 2012 NY Slip Op. 30513U (Sup. Ct. NY Co. Mar. 5, 2012)]
  • “In order to establish a prima facie case of negligence against a common carrier for injuries sustained by a passenger as a result of the movement of the vehicle, the plaintiff must establish that the movement consisted of a jerk or lurch that was ‘unusual and violent.’” [Feneque v. MTA Bus Co., 2012 NY Slip Op. 30099U (Sup. Ct. Queens Co. Jan. 4, 2012)]
  • Ditto. [Liao v. Metropolitan Transp. Auth. Long Is. Bus, 2012 NY Slip Op. 30311U (Sup. Ct. Nassau Co., Jan. 26, 2012)]
  • A woman who sustained injuries when she allegedly lost her balance on a jetbridge at JFK Airport can sue the airline for her injuries, it was held, but not the Port Authority, which owned the premises. As the court explained, the Port Authority was entitled to summary judgment because it was an out-of-possession lessor and its lease with the airline disclaimed its responsibility for maintenance and repairs. [Alicea v. Jetblue Airways Corp., 2012 NY Slip Op. 50193U (Sup. Ct. Queens Co. Feb. 3, 2012)].
  • Ditto. “It is undisputed in the record that the Port Authority owned the GWB at the time of the incident, that it had an agreement with Maracap to repair a ramp to the bridge and that the Port Authority’s representatives did not give instructions to plaintiff and were not present at the location of the accident…. Therefore, the Port Authority has demonstrated, under the circumstances in the instant matter, that it was not an ‘owner’ as contemplated by the Legislature under the Labor Law.” Maragliano v. Port Authority, 2012 NY Slip Op. 30374U (Sup. Ct. Queens Co. Feb. 9, 2012)]
  • The Second Department granted summary judgment in favor of the MTA and the Long Island Rail Road for injuries allegedly sustained in facility used to perform maintenance and repairs on the authorities’ train cars. As the court explained, the MTA and LIRR were entitled to judgment as a matter of law under Labor Law § 241(6) by submitting evidence that the plaintiff, who, as a materials coordinator, was engaged in the requisitioning and gathering of parts used by others in the course of performing maintenance and modification of existing railroad cars, was not engaged in construction, excavation, or demolition work. [Sotomayer v. MTA, 938 N.Y.S.2d 640 (2d Dept. Feb. 21, 2012)]
  • Common law and statutory negligence claims brought against the Nassau County IDA and other defendants were dismissed on summary judgment because the plaintiff construction worker testified that he jumped off the ladder, rather than falling; he had used the same ladder on multiple occasions without incident and just prior to the accident reinspected it and found it to be sturdy; when asked if the ladder ended up falling at all, he unequivocally answered no; and there was an absence of evidence with respect to the existence of any slippery surfaces present at the time of the accident. [Pertillar v. Amsterdam House, 2012 NY Slip Op. 30422U (Sup. Ct. Nassau Co. Feb. 10, 2012)]

Post-judgment proceedings

  • Buffalo Teachers Federation v. Tobe involved a motion to seek relief from a previous judgment concerning the “Wage Freeze Resolution” enacted by the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. The Second Circuit had previously held that the wage freeze terms were constitutional and the teachers’ motion for relief was denied because it hadn’t been filed within a “reasonable time.” Specifically, the teachers waited over four years to bring the motion— much longer than delays have been held unreasonable in other cases. [Buffalo Teachers Fed’n v. Tobe, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17123 (WDNY Feb. 8, 2012)]
  • A motion for reargument in a case involving claims against the Dormitory Authority was denied because although the plaintiffs contended that the judge inappropriately considered a document outside the pleadings, the judge stated that his decision did not consider any of the additional exhibits. Moreover, the plaintiffs failed to show that reconsideration was warranted to correct a clear error or prevent a manifest injustice. [Tadco Const. Group Corp. v. Dormitory Auth., 2012 Dist. LEXIS 18388 (EDNY Feb. 14, 2012)]
  • A federal district court granted a motion brought by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and the MTA to reconsider its earlier order certifying a class in an action challenging the differential toll policy administered on several New York City bridges.  [Janes v. Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Auth., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7258 (SDNY Jan. 23, 2012)]


Secoond Amendment

  • The Port Authority didn’t violate the Second Amendment by placing an on-duty restriction on an employee’s firearm use and then refusing to reconsider the restriction or give the employee a certificate of good standing after he retired. [Montalbano v. Port Authority, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20527 (SDNY Feb. 17, 2012)] [Public Authorities Blog]
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: