Commuter Sues LIRR For Refund

"They have to stop gouging us and start treating us as clients."

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    For four days this winter, Kimon Stathakos lost his ride to work when the Long Island Rail Road suspended service due to heavy snow.

    That didn't bother the Stony Brook man who rides the train nearly every day to his job in Manhattan.

    What irked Stathakos was what happened when he e-mailed the LIRR, asking for a refund for the lost days.

    The railroad, Stathakos said, ignored him.

    "That's where I said, 'I am not being treated as a customer and I don't appreciate it,'" Stathakos told NBCNewYork.com.

    Now, the LIRR will have to answer. 

    Stathakos has filed a lawsuit against the MTA and LIRR in New York State Supreme Court, seeking that refund for both himself and every other LIRR commuter who held a monthly train pass during the service suspensions.

    The dates named in the suit are Dec. 27, Jan. 12, Jan. 27 and Feb. 2. 

    In court papers, Stathakos claimed to have purchased a monthly LIRR ticket in December, January and February.  The cost, he said, was more than $400 a month. 

    On average, about 100,000 commuters buy a monthly pass, according to the LIRR. 

    "He bought a ticket.  He paid for service.  If the service isn't there, it only makes sense to refund the money," said his lawyer, Ken Mollins.

    The LIRR wouldn't comment specifically on the lawsuit.  But in a statement the railroad explained that monthly tickets are already discounted by about 50 percent. 

    "Prior to each storm, the LIRR reminded customers it might be necessary to suspend service for safety reasons," the statement said. 

    "The LIRR successfully kept customers out of harm's way during each of the storms."

    At the Hicksville train station, commuters were divided.

    "This is mother nature," said LIRR rider Keith Mullin. "The railroad has nothing to do with this.  I think this guy is reaching."

    "If they didn't deliver service, people shouldn't have to pay," rider Vincent Repka said.

    Even if the suit is successful, individual commuters won't get much money back. But for Stathakos, this isn't about money. It's about doing the right thing.

    "I don't think they anticipated anyone standing up for themselves and saying this is happening. It's excessive," Stathakos said. "They have to stop gouging us and start treating us as clients."