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Mom Sues NYC Subway for $50M Over Son's Death

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on January 27, 2012 5:04 AM

A mother's New York City subway lawsuit seeks $50 million for the death of her son, who was roaming the underground tunnels after a night of partying with friends.

Marva Nelson faults NYC's Metropolitan Transportation Authority for not doing a diligent enough search for her son Briant Rowe, 24, of Brooklyn, after he jumped onto the tracks in November, the New York Daily News reports.

"If proper protocols were enforced, it is our view that Briant would still be alive today," Nelson's attorney told the Daily News. But it's not clear what those "proper protocols" actually entail.

A subway worker saw Briant Rowe jump onto the tracks, and reported the incident about 5:49 a.m. Transit workers spent 40 minutes using an out-of-service train to search for Rowe, but didn't find him, the NYC subway lawsuit states.

About two hours later, a subway train struck and killed Rowe near the Newkirk Avenue station.

The MTA declined to comment about its procedures when searching for pedestrians in a subway tunnel. But Nelson's lawyer said the MTA's 40-minute search by train wasn't adequate.

"A more appropriate search ... would have been to go on foot with flashlights and to shut the system down and find this individual," the lawyer told New York's WNBC-TV.

If the subway lawsuit proceeds to trial, a jury will likely decide whether the subway system's actions amounted to negligence. MTA regulations and expert testimony will probably come into play.

Because the MTA is a government entity, special rules may determine how the NYC subway lawsuit proceeds. Many jurisdictions provide some form of governmental immunity from lawsuits.

Rowe had been partying in Manhattan with fraternity buddies before he was struck and killed by a subway train, but he didn't have substance-abuse or mental-health problems, relatives tell New York's WNYC radio. Autopsy results are pending.

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