May 2, 2008 / News

GAVEL TO GAVEL

The Brooklyn Paper

Pols drop suit against the MTA

Feeling that they’ve made their point, Rep. Vito Fossella and other elected officials in Bay Ridge and Staten Island have dropped a lawsuit that would hold the MTA more accountable to motorists as they continue their rehab of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The suit, which was filed late last year and had Fossella, State Senator Andrew Lanza, State Assemblymember Louis R. Tobacco and City Councilmember James Oddo as co-plaintiffs, demanded “injunctive relief” against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and what they called its “arbitrary, capricious and unlawful issuance of approvals for the partial closure of the westbound lower level entrance ramp on the Verrazano Bridge.”

The bridge is currently undergoing a 15-month, $65 million project to repair and replace the approach lanes to both ends of the span, MTA officials said.

The suit, which was drafted by Assembly candidate Anthony Xanthakis, states the MTA should not be allowed to continue with its ongoing bridge rehab project because “an environmental review of the project violated the requirements of the New York State Environmental Review Act.” Elected officials also charged that the project was put in place without an alternative mitigation plan that would have eased the congestion nightmares the bridge.

But those allegations are no longer true, elected officials told reporters this week, saying that since the MTA has begun cleaning up their act, the lawsuit was no longer valid.

Elected officials said that since the lawsuit was filed, the MTA has created special incentives to encourage the contractor currently working on the project to finish as quickly as possible.

The MTA now says that it expected to have the project completed by Labor Day weekend and that the Staten Island-bound lanes to the Verrazano Bridge will be opened by the 4th of July Weekend.

Other improvements the MTA agreed to include the creation of a new HOV+2 “contra flow lane,” called a queue jumper, on the Gowanus Expressway running from 65th Street to 92nd Street, which should help alleviate delays at that major choke point and minimize the need for motorists to exit the highway and use the local streets in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst.

“We wish we didn’t have to bring a lawsuit, but we just felt the MTA wasn’t listening,” Lanza told NY1.

When they announced that they were dropping the suit, Judge Philip J. Minardo said that if the MTA doesn’t make good on its promises than the elected officials can re-file their suit at any time.

Last year, Minardo denied Fossella’s plea for immediate injunctive relief when the suit was first filed, and instead directed both parties to continue meeting to “evaluate what steps the MTA has taken to minimize the impact of the project.”

“We leave our options open actually until July 4th,” Fossella said, adding that he and his fellow elected officials plan to make sure that the MTA stays true to their promises.

“Some folks rolled their eyes when they heard of our lawsuit,” Oddo said in a statement. “Make no mistake, the MTA acted because the specter of its employees testifying under oath in Judge Minardo’s courtroom was highly unappealing.”

MTA officials told reporters that they were very happy that Fossella and his co-plaintiffs have dropped the suit and that “we continue to be very focused on getting this project done as soon as possible.”

Hospital saved from

rectal exam spanking

A jury denied a monetary windfall to a Brooklyn construction worker suing New York Presbyterian Hospital for trying to administer a rectal exam although it was strictly against his wishes.

After being hit in the head with a plank of wood during an accident at a Manhattan construction site back in May 2003, Brian Persaud, a resident of East Flatbush, was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital Emergency Room.

He was given stitches for a cut on his head, but doctors told him that they needed to conduct a rectal exam to determine if his spine hadn’t been damaged, officials said.

Persaud objected, telling doctors that he didn’t want the exam to be performed.

The doctors, according to his suit, didn’t listen.

He was so adamantly opposed to the procedure that he reportedly hit a doctor trying to hold him down so the exam could be performed, officials said. Doctors sedated him, yet never finished the exam, officials said at the time.

According to the suit, Persaud woke up to find himself handcuffed to a bed, an oxygen tube down his throat and lubricant in his rectum.

Although he was arrested with assault for hitting the doctor, the charges were later dropped.

“I’m appalled they did this to me. I lost my dignity,” Persaud said when he announced his suit at a press conference in his lawyer’s office last year. His attorney told reporters that Persaud is currently unemployed and has not been able to hold a job since the alleged violation.

Yet following a trial last week, a jury found that the doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital were not liable to any physical or emotional injury Persaud may have suffered, especially since doctors never completed the exam.

Persaud’s attorneys said that they plan to appeal.


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