Hey, there! Log in / Register

On free-fare day, lawyer announces class-action suit against MBTA, Keolis for winter woes

A Boston lawyer says the T and Keolis owe commuter-rail riders a lot more than just a 15% discount on their Mass passes, so, of course, he's filed a lawsuit.

The suit, filed earlier this week in Middlesex Superior Court by Robert Richardson, seeks to make Raquel Rodriguez, identified as "a resident of the Commonwealth," lead plaintiff in an action seeking not just refunds for January, February and March passholders, but damages as well.

Although the complaint does not say which line Rodriguez rides, it does state she usually took an 8:40 a.m. train but during the snow crisis was forced to choose between a 7 a.m. train - too early because she had to get her children to school at 7:30 a.m. - and a 10:50 a.m. train - too late because she would get to work her normal starting time and be fired.

The complaint accuses the T and Keolis of breach of contract for failing to honor rider needs for decent daily service in those months and accuses the authority and the rail company of being "unjustly enriched by keeping the hundreds of dollars Plaintiff and putative Plaintiffs paid the defendants for commuter rail monthly passes for parts of January and March, 2015 and all of February, 2015, when Defendants failed to provide timely and reliable commuter rail service."

Complete complaint, Rodriguez vs. MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services, LLC.

Topics: 

Ad:

Comments

This is the first lawsuit I have read about on this site that I am 100% down for.

Sign me the hell up!

up
Voting closed 0

https://www.mbtaclassaction.com (note that while the site talks about subway issues, the actual lawsuit only refers to commuter-rail problems).

up
Voting closed 0

If they win and I'm on the bandwagon...I don't know much about government and law stuff (never paid attention in school-TOO LATE NOW), but I'm pretty sure that when the T starts payin' up, I should probably be there.

up
Voting closed 0

The stuff just finished melting outside of the Subaru Pier and Hingham Bathing Beach and the sharks are in the water. You have to love a lawyer who doesn't have a fixed address, just a PO Box, and works only with a cell phone. Dirty sneaker not white shoe firm here folks.

I'm rooting for the T here.

up
Voting closed 0

A real life Saul Goodman! Here in our
very own state of MA!

up
Voting closed 0

I'd support a lawsuit for people who lost pay or their jobs because of MBTA failures but I'd prefer most of the damages went to people with damages not lawyers. This case calls for pro-bono representation, not 50% of the damages.

up
Voting closed 0

You have to love a lawyer who doesn't have a fixed address, just a PO Box, and works only with a cell phone

Better Call Saul?!?

(thanks Cuzidotrumpet for the correction)

up
Voting closed 0

Random Person: Hi, I need some help with a lawsuit.
Saul: What for?
Random Person: Need to sue the T about everything they did wrong back during the winter of our discontent (accents "discontent")
Saul: Hold on and call me back in a few hours-still stuck on the Orange line with heavy delays...

Edit: The correction was no problem. Although I was surprised that I, being a musician with no life, knew it at all.

up
Voting closed 0

You have to love a lawyer who doesn't have a fixed address, just a PO Box, and works only with a cell phone.

Or, he's a lawyer at a professional firm called Richardson & Cumbo, LLP, based at 225 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 02110, which looks like a pretty high-rent building, and they have both a phone and a FAX number you can reach them at. Of course I took the time to look at the website, rather than just throw around off-the-cuff smears about lawyer stereotypes. The PO Box might be something they set up exclusively for this case to help sort mail.

up
Voting closed 0

Reverse lookup the telephone number. It has a PO Box. And it is a mobile phone.
http://www.whitepages.com/reverse_phone

It much better to lookup the lawyer at Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers. But it too has a PO Box. http://massbbo.org/bbolookup.php

And the address listed on the web probably is a Virtual Office, where you can rent offices and conference rooms as need. There is one at that address.
http://www.regus.com/locations/business-centre/massachusetts-boston-fran...

The folks at UHub are fairly savy at finding out information rather posting "smears". They don't believe that just because it is on the internet, that it is a fact.

That being said, the lawyer in question was admitted to the bar in one of the worst time in the state's history to become a lawyer with few firms that were hiring. So if he has to be flexible but professional so be it... Good for him for finding a way to work on his own.

up
Voting closed 0

So if this greedy defendant wins the Mbta will be in even worse financial shape to deal with future emergencies, but they will be able to retire and drive an suv or other luxury vehicle so I guess they don't care. I'm going to sue the schools for canceling school when I was a kid when it snowed and therefore I got a worse education than someone in a state where snow didn't cancel school (like Montreal) and that's why I can't get a great job.

up
Voting closed 0

The MBTA and Keolis are the defendants in this case.

up
Voting closed 0

This kind of class action suit only benefits the lawyers and hurts an already struggling MBTA. After the lawyers get their cut, you'll be lucky if you get back the cost of your commuter rail pass for those months.

up
Voting closed 0

I have been saying this all along. The winners here are the lawyers. The losers... the MBTA and YOU, the tax payer, because the taxpayers are the ones who pay for these lawsuits in the end.

Does this lady realize in the end she's going to end up paying for her own lawsuit? Even if she never rode the T again, she's still paying with her taxes. And even if she moved out of state, indirectly she's still paying for it (since the federal gov't gives money to the T). So she's eventually she's going to pay herself in the end, like the rest of us who pay taxes.

It's a circular payout.. she'd be better off taking the cost of those passes and writing herself a check since she's a tax payer. And at least then she'll get the full amount back because then lawyer do not get their cut out of the deal.

Sometimes people are so fogged by the "I've been wronged" syndrome they can't see the entire picture and how clearly wrong they are by suing.

up
Voting closed 0

If you sue a corporation, they eventually just make the money back by increasing the prices they charge their customers. If you collect an insurance payout, the insurers just raise their rates eventually to make the money back.

Guess we should just let them all get away with bad behavior.

up
Voting closed 0

we're not suing a corporation or insurance company. we're suing a public entity that we all pay for.

I knew someone was going to try this with me so my rebuttal is this, unlike a corporation you don't have to continue to use their service and pay for it. You can leave and stop paying at any time because you have options. The T on the other hand you pay for regardless of whether you use it or not. So in the end, you end up paying for these lawsuits even if you never use the T again. So you're just paying yourself.

And what about people like myself who oppose such lawsuits? I don't agree but now I have to pay for something I don't approve of. And unlike suing Comcast or another corporation for bad service, I have no other choice than to pay my taxes, so I'm stuck paying for this regardless. Again no one ever wins at these things, only the lawyers do.

I never said we should let them get away with bad behavior. But you're mistaken if you think a lawsuit will force change, it won't, it never has, and never will. I'm sorry, it won't change a thing except push them further into debt. So what good is that? What change did you expect? I'm sorry you're just delusional if you think a lawsuit is going to force any change at the T. Change needs to come from the Legislators and Governor, not a lawsuit.

up
Voting closed 0

He oughta be pointing that thing at Deval, Dr. "cough cough" Scott, and the Great and General Court....

up
Voting closed 0

Wow, you're so well informed.. *sarcasm*
"Wrong target" - ironic subject line, huh?

up
Voting closed 0

Let's try to narrow things down.

Fitchburg line inbound: from Littleton stop, one at 7, one at 7:24, one at 7:45, one at 8:50, one at 9:51, one at 11:02.
Framingham/Worcester: from Worcester stop, one at 7, one at 7:35, one at 8:40, one at 10:45. other stops on the line, in the Swellesley area, also vaguely fit her timeline.
Providence/Stoughton: from Canton Center stop, one at 7:04, one at 7:57, one at 8:36, one at 9:49, one at 10:49.

None of the rest of the lines have options as limited as what the suit claims, so I'm strongly inclined to think she's full of something. Is she talking about the revised winter schedule's train service? What zone is she traveling from? This all smells worse than Back Bay, frankly.

up
Voting closed 0

I think the entire point is that most of those trains were cancelled for nearly all of March.

up
Voting closed 0

Why doesn't the suit specify that, then? Why doesn't the suit contain one jot of concrete information about what train, what line, what timetable was published and how it was altered? Because the real point, I suspect, is that this plaintiff found some shady lawyer who's out for a quick buck and a moment of notoriety. And anyway, suing the T, as others have pointed out, is like trying to get blood from a stone.

up
Voting closed 0

I lot of hourly workers who need the T, especially in the winter, lost pay because the MBTA was broken and they didn't have an alternative option to get to work on time. Some people lost their jobs. There were articles in the newspaper at the time.

The Mass. economy lost approx. $1 billion over four days of no MBTA.

up
Voting closed 0

Footnote #3 on page 3 contains the information you're looking for. The train that Ms. Rodriguez normally took, an 08:40 train, is referenced, and the MBTA/Keolis cancelled this train, leaving her with two untenable options, an 07:00 and a 10:50. (She had to be at work before 10:50, and her kid couldn't be sent to school until 07:30.)

More complete and detailed information is unnecessary to provide in a lawsuit's initial complaint, but may be provided either as attached exhibits (the complaint references several exhibits but they're not part of the PDF unfortunately) or requested by the plaintiff from the defendant during the discovery process. Complaints can also be amended; I do notice that which line that this 08:40 train ran on seems to be missing, but since this is the opening salvo in a class-action lawsuit, which will ultimately involve plaintiffs who used every single CR line, such an omission is hardly meaningful and certainly not fatal to the case.

up
Voting closed 0

i definitely also think its a good idea to sue the T for not running during the literal worst winter on record, they should have just run anyway, safeTy be damned.

any time a train breaks down i think the state should be forced to compensate anybody affected, because that is a good and normal expectation

up
Voting closed 0

Safety during storms? OK. But the commuter rail ran a reduced schedule for ALL of March. March saw only 10 inches of snow total, and nearly all of that was prior to March 6th. You mean to tell me that 20% of trains not running THREE WEEKS after the snow has stopped falling is because of safety concerns?

up
Voting closed 0

I was waiting for this strawman argument to get posted.

The T shutting down on the 2-3 days that Boston got hit by blizzards is not what is being sued over, and could not rightly result in a lawsuit. Inclement weather that causes short-term and reasonable disruption clearly falls under the "act of God"/"force majeure" concept and isn't something you can hold a company responsible for.

The T is being held responsible for the collapse in service that spanned practically two months, which is an example of rank negligence on the part of the people who run the T. A transit system becoming nonfunctional for nearly two months as a result of a snowstorm is not normal and not something that can be called an "act of God." Any transit system run properly would have been functional again 1-2 days after each storm, yet the T wasn't. And the T's response is an insulting 15% refund to pass-holders.

If a hurricane damages your apartment building, you can't blame the landlord - "act of God." But if your landlord has been keeping the building in a rotting state of disrepair for a decade, knows the thing is close to collapsing, has been warned it's close to collapsing, and then a storm knocks the building flat, your landlord is entirely responsible. His negligence caused the disaster, not the weather.

I'd have just called the T's behavior "negligence" but "unjust enrichment" is probably one of the most apropos bits of legalese I've ever heard to describe the February/March debacle and the T's response to it.

up
Voting closed 0

§ D (pp.10-11) of the complaint explains the rationale of the lawsuit. Not the weather, but the T's negligence.

up
Voting closed 0

any time a train breaks down i think the state should be forced to compensate anybody affected, because that is a good and normal expectation

The T used to do exactly this. It was called the Service Guarantee. If any service was more than a half hour delayed, you could file a claim on the website, and a few weeks later, receive a free ticket for the service in question.

up
Voting closed 0

Yep. The train had to be more than 30min late to claim a refund. This was the era when the T had a primitive alert system on their web 1.0 website, and a train was never, ever listed as more than "25 minutes" late.

After defrauding people like this for years they finally got rid of the refund system by claiming too many people were filing fraudulent refund requests and it was too hard to verify any of them.

This was the same era during which the T had "ghost" buses - bus service cuts that they didn't publish and didn't admit to. They would just skip an occasional bus but still claim on their schedules that it ran.

up
Voting closed 0

I only filed a few claims, but the T never denied any of them, and I never heard of anyone else whose claims were denied either.

up
Voting closed 0

Defrauding meaning the MBTA posting on their website that trains, which were in fact 30+ minutes late, were only "25 minutes" late. When they have a policy of refunding your money for 30+ minute late trains. IOW, they would never up-front admit that a train qualified for the refund; in fact they would try to claim the exact opposite. This would obviously discourage people from bothering to submit refund demands. I remember this stuff was discussed extensively on an MBTA watchdog site I used to read back then (I think it was called "Bad Transit"?), and people who had ridden on these late trains saying exactly that. Trains much, much later than 30+ minutes would methodically be published as "25 minutes" late.

And of course the MBTA publishing a bus schedule then intentionally removing buses without removing them from the schedule is defrauding their customers, too. I don't remember where I heard about this first but the practice was called something like "ghost buses" when it was outed.

up
Voting closed 0

By givin' them a FREE lawsuit.

up
Voting closed 0

I mean, they are thinking along the lines of what the Conservation Law Foundation used to do. I'm sure the idea is to force the Commonwealth to actually invest in the T, rather than sucking money out of it like some kind of legal parasite.

And the fact the attorney will do this all pro bono is awesome. I tip my hat to you, sir. When you make the T invest in things like, say, new trains for the Orange and Red lines and new locomotives and cars for the commuter rail, that will make things great for all of us.

Bravo.

up
Voting closed 0

I sure hope this is sarcasm because if you think this will happen because of this lawsuit, think again. Nothing good will happen, except the lawyer will get a payout and she might get a partial refund on the passes she bought (that is if after the lawyer takes their cut) and that's all. Nothing will change.

People seem to think suing will 'change' people or companies. It's 100% false. It never does. They want this lawsuit to be over as quickly as possible and just pay out or settle to get you to shut up and go away. Nothing changes. Service won't change or improve. Keep dreaming if you think a lawsuit will.

Even the CLF lawsuits still haven't changed anything and many of them happened over 20 years ago? did service change? No. It actually got WORSE because they forced the T build things it could not afford, which degraded service over time. (gee maybe the CLF should be sued instead!)

Lawsuits only benefit the lawyers involved, and no one else.

up
Voting closed 0

Which is that the T took steps to upgrade the rolling stock, the source of the lead plaintiff's grief, years ago, but things are just now beginning to come online.

Which reminds me. I need to start a class action lawsuit based on the fact that our 94 Ford keeps on breaking down.

up
Voting closed 0

The meager basis for a lawsuit here is that the contract entered into by the commuter rail and the purchaser of the pass is one for reliable, timely service, not simply best effort.

By getting rid of monthly passes, there is even less of a contract to base frivolous lawsuits upon.

up
Voting closed 0

We should get rid of automated tolling, too.

And put tolls on every single roadway. Drivers need to pay their own way, every day!

/markkkkylahgik

up
Voting closed 0

If they lawyer can prove a breach of contract, the perversely logical thing would be to no longer expose the system to that possibility come next winter or in the event of any other disaster. Getting rid of monthly or even weekly passes would mean the T would only be liable for operations from day to day.

That said, the suit is BS.

up
Voting closed 0

I don't see the connection. Automated tolling doesn't mean you pay a chunk of change in advance to use the road for one whole month; you still pay the fixed toll the moment you pass through a tollbooth--you just do so with an electronic debit system rather than handing someone cash. If the road gets closed for a month, and you can't drive down that road for a month, you don't lose any of the money you put in your EZ-Pass account. It just sits there waiting.

The T monthly passes are good for one month. If you don't use the T during that month, the money you put into the pass is gone.

Automated tolling is more like the CharlieCards with fixed amounts of money loaded on them. Even though you put the money there in advance, you still only pay for a fare when you wave your card.

up
Voting closed 0

Yep. They could switch to a discount system where if you pre-pay for say 40+ rides in advance you get a discount that's equivalent to what they currently charge for a monthly zone pass -- but in the new system you're charged per-ride. So it'd be like a Super-CharlieCard. And by the same token, if you don't use it, you're not being charged. Then, since the money on the card doesn't expire at the end of a month, it can't be claimed that the T owed you a "month of reliable service" or whatever in exchange for your purchase.

I haven't used them in years, but the Boston Express bus used to have a 10-ride pass that worked this way. You would buy it at a steep discount (over a round-trip ticket) and it would be good for 10 rides. The "idea" was that 10 rides was for one full week of use by commuters, but if you skipped a day, you didn't lose those two rides; your card was now good an extra day into next week. When I started using them I was buying them on Mondays of course, but by the end of my use of that bus I was buying them on like a Thursday or Friday.

up
Voting closed 0

I got whiplash on this cold winter like morning as I scrolled through Uhub headlines and saw this story. I'm scarred physically and emotionally and I want what's rightfully mine.

up
Voting closed 0

I've seen how transit works in Europe & it's light years ahead of this mess!! Sue them into bankruptcy, let the dregs & useless citizens who "work" for the MBTA/commuter rail find real jobs (if they can, though I doubt any of them are useful at anything but living off of my tax dollars), & bring in a workforce that will work a wage commensurate with their skills. Then use the extra money to buy reliable equipment, maybe then the public won't have to resort to such legal actions. No one working low-skill jobs like train drivers or ticket punchers should be making anything more than grocery-bagger money, these are not skilled positions and with proper training most anyone could do it!

up
Voting closed 0

in most other western countries, the government heavily subsidizes public transport because it is - what a concept! - a public service. that's why it's "light years ahead" of what we have here. and, y'know, your average European pays quite a bit in taxes...but that allows governments to continue to provide services like public transport and working infrastructure. it's just CRAZY how that works.

will any of that work in the tax-phobic United States? probably not. but isn't it pretty to think so.

up
Voting closed 0

My favorite one is that driving a train is basically like bagging groceries.

Of course, if he finds out how much "ticket punchers" make in Europe, not including the 8 weeks vacation and retirement package that makes it looks like T workers are there until old age, his head might explode.

up
Voting closed 0

Yeah, that's got nothing to do with it, either. That whole "not having employers pay for things that everyone should get" thing.

Also note that European systems operate with a lot more of those "ticket punchers" than US systems do.

up
Voting closed 0

And in several countries in Europe there are active, organized movements to make public transit outright fare-free (IOW, 100% subsidized by taxes).

up
Voting closed 0

Posts like yours are what make people who legitimately complain about the T look bad.

The wages that most of the MBTA workers make are commensurate with their work. It's something in the $18-25 range for the equipment operators. Driving a train isn't rocket science, but it is skilled labor. Additionally, even though union T workers are difficult-to-impossible to fire for most kinds of workplace misbehavior, they can and will be let go on-the-spot for safety violations. For example, the T has had a policy for a couple years now that even carrying a cell phone while operating a bus/train is an instant firing. That kind of stringent standard earns people higher pay, and rightly so.

Where the T has problems with their workers is in the fringe benefits and other perks the unions have coerced from the MBTA. The T workers are allowed to take off far more time than is typical, and as recent stories have alleged, they seem to be massively abusing medical/sick time laws like the FMLA to get away with it. The pension/retirement system used to allow T employees to work less than 25 years and then retire on full pension, so you have people in their 40s retired from the T and collecting pensions for another 30 years. The T has reformed the retirement rules for new hires, but they can't retrospectively change what was offered to employees previously, so this problem will be around, albeit shrinking, for years to come. The T also has issues with their maintenance shifts, where the T workers only get to do meaningful track work for 1-3 hours per night, but the union rules say a shift is fully paid as a full shift, so they get paid for 8 hours of "work" even if they worked 2.

If the T had their people working a full schedule and working full shifts you'd see amazing improvement in the T. And the $18-25/hr salaries would be just right for such work.

Where the T has even bigger problems are in the executive-level (union-exempt) positions. This is where you find the political patronage, the six-figure salaries for chair-warmer jobs, the 100% no-shows, and stuff like that.

up
Voting closed 0

I heard a rumor that the MBTA used to open the fare gates on Earth Day (April 22) as a sort of promotion for public transit. Can anyone confirm?

Did they just move the normal Earth Day "free fare" day to Friday and have their PR hacks re-brand it as a "customer appreciation" day in response to the winter collapse?

The T management has pulled some brazen and cynical shit before but this seems even beyond the pale for them.

up
Voting closed 0

Yes, the T used to have a free fare day in conjunction with the Earth Day festival at the Hatch Shell, which was not necessarily on April 22 but was on the weekend closest to that date. The T hasn't done this in years.

The Earth Fest long ago moved to May because of too much rain and cold weather in April ... and this year it's going to be in July instead, combined with Outside the Box Festival on the Common.

up
Voting closed 0

Thanks.

up
Voting closed 0