By Hal M. Bundrick
NEW YORK (MainStreet) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in a jam. The Fort Lee bridge scandal is spawning a turnpike full of legal trouble as legislators, investigators and prosecutors circle the stalled politician.
Time to lawyer-up.
Six residents of Fort Lee, N.J. have already filed a class action lawsuit against the governor, three of his aides who have been implicated in the matter, as well as the state of New Jersey and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The suit stems from the purportedly politically motivated traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J. for four days in September of last year. The six plaintiffs named in the federal lawsuit claim the traffic jams made them late for work; deprived them of "life, liberty and property for several hours"; and cost them wages in docked pay.
They are seeking damages and punitive payments for constitutional violations, including denial of due process and equal protection; "willful, wanton, arbitrary and egregious official misconduct"; abuse of authority; and unconstitutional denial of the right to travel.
One plaintiff reportedly suffered a "panic attack." The group is represented by attorney Rosemarie Arnold, of Fort Lee.
The lead plaintiff, Zachary Galicki and his wife, Joy, were commuting to their business in Midtown when they encountered the snarled traffic.
"I was actually panicking," the Fort Lee woman told the New York Daily News. "There were no cops. No signs. No one to direct us. It came out of nowhere. I had such anxiety my husband had to pull over so I could vomit."
The Galickis told the Daily News the disaster added more than an hour to their commute and left as many as 75 employees and others waiting outside their building the morning of the alleged traffic blockade.
"The local Fort Lee roads became clogged with traffic, causing each plaintiff to be trapped on local roads for a long period of time and eventually arriving to work later than they would have," the complaint states.
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet