UPDATE: On October 31, 2023, the Court granted final approval of a settlement requiring the NYC Transit Authority to provide access to crucial information so that New Yorkers facing alleged transit debt can meaningfully assert their rights. Read the basic terms of the final settlement here, and read the press release 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. A federal judge certified the class action in September 2020.
The named plaintiffs, Nathaniel Robinson and David Evans, sought to compel the Transit Authority to provide people with adequate notice and opportunity to be heard, among other relief. The plaintiffs sought this relief for themselves and for other low-income New Yorkers who supposedly were issued tickets for alleged violations of MTA rules (such as fare evasion) and then had default judgments entered against them.
The lawsuit alleges that the Transit Authority fails to provide even the most basic documents about alleged violations—including copies of the underlying tickets—making it all but impossible for people to effectively contest the default judgments against them. In June 2023, the court granted preliminary approval of a settlement that will restore basic due process by requiring the agency to make key documents and information readily available to New Yorkers, including homeless New Yorkers, people of color, and others disproportionately targeted for alleged transit infractions. The court granted final approval of the settlement in October 2023.
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, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 Offices of Gerald S. Hartman.
Click here to watch the NY1-Inside City Hall interview of Mr. Evans and lawyers from New Economy Project and NCLEJ.
- Gothamist – The MTA Is Allegedly Seizing Tax Refunds From Poor NYers Over Decades-Old Infractions
- CBS News – New Yorkers Say State Agency Snatched Their Tax Refunds
- Patch – MTA Took BK Veteran’s Tax Refunds For Decades-Old Ticket: Lawsuit
- The City – How Old Subway Fines Blocked New Yorkers’ State Tax Refunds
- New Economy Project – How the MTA Targets Poor New Yorkers of Color to Collect on Old, Alleged Debts (Even During the Pandemic)