Millions Thrown Away on the Tracks

MTA loses $57.6 million in personal injury suits

The bulk of the MTA's financial woes can be blamed on mismanagement. But a nice chunk of the budget deficit comes courtesy of dozens of drunks and clowns too stupid to stay off the subway tracks.

The MTA last year dished out $57.6 million to pay 1,187 personal-injury claims. That staggering dollar amount was reached despite the agency winning 96 of 150 jury decisions.

"There are a small, but not insignificant, number of cases every year of people intentionally on the tracks coming into contact with trains," Martin Schnabel, NYC Transit's chief lawyer, told The New York Post.

A big part of the problem is the state legislature's refusal to to stop suits from people who do things like taking a drunken stroll on the tracks. And in cases where a jury decides that the MTA is only partly to blame, the get stuck with the entire bill.

"We're classic deep-pocket defendants," Schnabel told The Daily News.

Just this year the agency has paid out $2.3 million to Dustin Dibble of Brooklyn resident, despite his admission that he was drunk and fell onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train. A jury ruled that the driver should have been able to stop in time. 

In an average year the MTA gets about 3,000 claims and there are currently 7,800 waiting to be tried or settled.

"There are also verdicts we simply don't agree with and cause us to pull our hair out," Schnabel told The Post. "But overall, the majority of verdicts don't fall into that category."

Contact Us