Impact Litigation

Robinson v. New York City Transit Authority et al.

UPDATE: On September 30, 2020, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, certifying a class of thousands of New Yorkers who have or will have default judgments entered against them for alleged violations (such as fare evasion) of MTA rules. Read the Court’s decision here and the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation here.

In February 2019, New Economy Project filed a federal class action lawsuit charging the NYC Transit Authority, an arm of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), with systemic due process violations. The civil rights lawsuit challenges the Transit Authority’s seizures of people’s state tax refunds to collect on default judgments—some going back 20 years or more—without legally-required notice or opportunity to review documents that might justify the agency’s actions.

The plaintiffs, Nathaniel Robinson and David Evans, seek an injunction barring the Transit Authority from collecting on default judgments until it has developed procedures to provide people with adequate notice and opportunity to be heard, among other relief. The plaintiffs seek this relief for themselves and for other low-income New Yorkers who supposedly were issued tickets for alleged violations (such as fare evasion) of MTA rules, and then had default judgments entered against them.

The lawsuit alleges that the Transit Authority fails to provide even the most basic documents about the alleged violations—including copies of the underlying tickets—making it all but impossible for people to effectively contest the default judgments against them.

Mr. Robinson and Mr. Evans are just two of potentially thousands of low-income New Yorkers and New Yorkers of color who we believe have been harmed by the Transit Authority’s alleged due process violations. We brought the lawsuit on behalf of these New Yorkers, many of whom initially contacted our organization through our NYC Financial Justice Hotline.

New Economy Project filed the lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, along with co-counsel, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), the law firm Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, and the law firm of Jerry Hartman.

Click here to watch the NY1-Inside City Hall interview of Mr. Evans and lawyers from New Economy Project and NCLEJ.

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