Thursday, December 22, 2005

Russian Restaurant Sues Over Transit Strike

(Hat tip: Irina) [Previously on NYC Transit Strike: Intro, Economics, Sue Them, Selfish, Pensions.]

I was waiting for this to happen:
Owners of a theater district restaurant sued the Transport Workers Union, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city Thursday in what was apparently the first lawsuit over financial losses due to the transit strike.

Owners of the Russian Samovar, partly owned by dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov until earlier this year, said the walkout and restrictions on vehicles entering Manhattan had caused the West 52nd Street restaurant to suffer a loss of customers and revenue.

The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan state Supreme Court, blames all sides of the labor dispute for the strike, saying the union struck illegally because the state's Taylor law bars walkouts by public employees, and because the same law forbids bargaining over public employees' retirement benefits.
I particularly enjoyed this line:
The lawsuit says that when the parties to the negotiations reach a contract settlement, the businesses that lost money "have no place to go except to this court for relief from the outrageous, purposeful, illegal and intentionally harmful strike."
Apparently, they are planning on turning this into a class action suit, which will mean they will actually be able to carry the lawsuit through to the end. I am not sure why the city and MTA are being sued, because I don't know what, if any, illegal actions they did. The only complaint against the city I can think of is restricting traffic, though I'm sure they can argue that their actions were necessary under the circumstances - and possibly shift that responsibility on to the MTA, who would then shift it onto the transit workers union.

Well, as this strike was illegal, no matter what one's stances are on the negotiations, I hope the restaurants win. The union deserves a good spanking for this.

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  1. Aha! So this story is actually true! : D

  2. I wonder if the lawsuit will be dismissed. You can't sue the police if you call 911 and they don't arrive on time, likewise for an ambulance. In order to sue, the individual needs to have a relationship with the person they are suing, a relationship which allows for a duty.

    Just because they violated a law doesn't mean they can actually be sued. There needs to be a private right of action. I'm not sure if the Taylor law allows for it. The purpose of the private suit is to force compliance with the law. The courts seem to be doing well in that regard.

    Same would apply to the MTA or City, with slight variations. The city moreso, since they have sovereignty of a sort, and thus are sorta immune from lawsuits unless they decide otherwise.

  3. Yep! Thanks Irina!

    Romach - Interesting points. I wonder if the duty of the TWU to provide their services would be enough of a relationship - I'd assume that the city can get out of this, and the MTA blame the TWU, but it will be interesting if the restaurant could prove a relationship somewhere...