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Late to Work? Sue the Train

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Earlier this week, New York’s state government agreed to fund an MTA capital program that will, among other things, finally bring the 2nd Avenue subway to the City. Theoretically, the now funded improvements -- which also include an extension of the 7 line -- will ease commuter congestion and make the morning routine a bit more tolerable.

Now if they could get the L train to run on weekends.

Of course, being late to work thanks to a crowded or stalled train wouldn’t be so bad if the train company reimbursed you for your time. Light years ahead of the rest of us, as always, this seems to be the French government’s operating principal.

A French court recently ruled against national rail company SNCF, ordering them to pay damages to a woman for making her late to work. The plaintiff, Soazig Parassols, lost her job after repeated tardiness due to train delays.

Apparently, Parassols was offered a trial run as a secretary but was fired after a month for her inability to be on time. Her lawsuit cites six train delays of between 10 and 75 minutes.

The court ruled in her favor because the job loss and train delays had “caused her stress.” SNCF was ordered to pay about $2,000, much less than the $60,000 she was asking for but substantially better than nothing. It is unclear whether or not there was an earlier train she could have taken.

SNCF lost a similar case in 2010, after a man was late for an important meeting. In that instance, the plaintiff won over $6,000.  

Meanwhile, earlier this month, a $400 million lawsuit filed by Massachusetts commuters against the state’s turnpike authority over the “unconstitutional and unfair misappropriation” of toll funds moved on to the state’s Supreme Court. Currently, 1,600 drivers are involved. The case was originally filed in 2009 and the plaintiffs’ lawyer has been quoted calling tolls “illegal and unconstitutional.”

No word yet on when we’ll see legal action against traffic. 
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