Transportation infrastructure is essential to keep traffic moving. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is responsible for keeping both states moving by air, land, rail, and sea. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a collaboration between the United States jurisdictions of New York and New Jersey established in 1921 by an interstate compact ratified by the United States Congress. The Port Authority is in charge of most metropolitan transit facilities, such as bridges, tunnels, airports, and seaports, within the Port of New York and New Jersey’s geographical jurisdiction. The Port Authority’s main office is located at 4 World Trade Centre.
Established in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was created to establish the authority’s position in handling freight rail operations in the two states. When the time elapsed, most of the mass transit migrated from railroads to highways; the Port Authority’s attention turned to other transportation forms.
[1.0] WHAT DOES THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY DO
The Port Authority runs the Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal, which regulated the third-highest level of ships in the United States in 2004, and the oldest on the Eastern Seaboard. The Port Authority currently runs six bi-state crossings: three between New Jersey and Manhattan and three between New Jersey and Staten Island. The Port Authority also operates the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the PATH train system and LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Teterboro Airport, and Stewart International Airport.
Presently, the bi-state body — a partnership seen between states of New York and New Jersey — is the recognized provider, operator, and administrator of all real estate assets, as well as transportation and distribution services, located throughout the port area. Five main airports (including JFK and LaGuardia), four seaports, bridges, and tunnels inside and between the two states, bus stations, rail transport, and real estate assets are among the public infrastructure facilities managed (including One World Trade Centre).
All in all, the Port Authority covers over a thousand miles, extending from the Statue of Liberty. With its massive geographic area and the multitude of activities and transport and logistics operations within, it’s not surprising that lawsuits emerge against the Port Authority.
[2.0] WHO REGULATES THE PORT AUTHORITY
The Port Authority is collectively governed by the governors of New York and New Jersey, who select representatives of the agency’s Board of Commissioners and hold power to overturn decisions taken by Commissioners from their respective states. Every governor gets to appoint six representatives of the Board of Commissioners, who are reviewable by the state senate and fulfill six-year terms without pay. The Board of Commissioners appoints an Executive Director to oversee daily operations and carry out the Port Authority’s initiatives. The Governor of New Jersey appoints the Chairman of the Board and the Deputy Executive Director inside an implicit power-sharing arrangement. In contrast, the Governor of New York appoints the Vice Chairman and Executive Director.
Following the September 11th attacks, a Security Committee was created to monitor the Port Authority Police Department, infrastructure security, and Homeland Security for all Port Authority facilities, the majority of which are prime targets for terrorists.
In terms of finances, the Port Authority has no taxing jurisdiction and receives no tax income from municipal or state governments. Instead, it is funded by the taxes generated by its leases, tolls, fees, and services.
[2.1] BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
The sessions of the Board of Commissioners are open to the community. Bystanders are welcome to contact the Board at these sessions but must first register by email. The Secretary’s Office can request the Port Authority’s public documents by an internal Freedom of Information policy that is meant to be compliant with and close to the federal Freedom of Information laws of both New York and New Jersey. Members of the Board of Commissioners are generally corporate goliaths and political force players with strong ties to their respective governors.
[3.0] WHAT KINDS OF CASES ARE FILED AGAINST THE PORT AUTHORITY?
When attempting to sue a Municipality or Government Agency, one must be aware of the concept of sovereign immunity. As an agency of the State, the Port Authority enjoys the same sovereign immunity as the State of New York. A city, county, the State of New York, or other government agencies cannot be sued unless they consent to the suit being instituted. The requirement in New York is the filing of a Notice of Claim. A Notice of Claim must be filed within a specific period of time, or the lawsuit cannot be filed at all. Customarily that time period is 90 days. However, the Port Authority requires at least sixty days to have elapsed.
In addition to the bi-state arrangement that established the Port Authority in 1951, New York and New Jersey agree to the responsibility for claims arising from ‘tortious acts’ committed by its officers. It potentially encourages individuals to pursue restitution from the Port Authority in the same way they would from a private corporation paying for physical injury and other illegal activities. Despite recent discussion about the efficaciousness of the remedy that the agreement fosters, the community can still file lawsuits against the authority. Even workers within the Authority are equipped to file a lawsuit under the corporation, after the landmark case of Burke v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in which a federal judge ruled that workers would file lawsuits against the corporation under the 1951 addition to the New York-New Jersey Port Authority Compact as well as the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD).
Suits against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must be addressed appropriately. A Notice of Claim shall have the information as to the parties as a minimum, including [A.] the identity and address of the party bringing the suit, as well as the attorney defending the party filing the lawsuit; [B.] the nature of the incident (what occurred), including the exact period, date, and site of the accident; [C.] the details of the injuries and [D.] the damages sought. It is also important to ensure the document’s verification, and the document must be sworn to. A document of this importance should be prepared in the first place by an accomplished local liability attorney.
The Notice of Claim is the Port Authority’s first warning of the incident. It is intended to remind them of which entity or organization is involved and any details regarding the accident. Too little detail can render the record null and void, while too many details can function against the defendant at a later point of the proceeding. It is necessary to furnish them with full and sufficient facts of the case.
If a notice of claim is required to be filed against the Port Authority, it is vital to ensure that this Notice has been provided to the right address. This is because the misfiling of the claim to an authority that already has a significant number of claims against it can often lead to a rejection of the claim. Without an appropriate address, the authority is not qualified to hear and return said notice would render it void, often leaving the claimant without remedy. Especially since Notice of Claim is time-bound, it is necessary to ensure that the ninety-day period for filing has not run its course. It is very seldom that a Court permits the filing of a late Notice of claim.
[3.1] KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER WHEN SERVING A NOTICE OF CLAIM
Filing a claim within the notice period is not the same as complying with the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations is an explicit timeframe within which a lawsuit must be filed. However, the Statute of Limitations only comes into play once the minimum requirements for filing a Notice of Claim have been reached. Personal service of Notices of Claim, Summonses, and Complaints, or Subpoenas for records and other documents on the Port Authority or its wholly-owned corporate entities (including the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH), the Newark Legal and Communications Centre Urban Renewal Corporation, or the New York and New Jersey Railroad Corporation) must be served upon an officer of the Port Authority itself or upon an officer of the respective entity in the State of New York.
In the State of New York, the same process service may be followed. Personal service of Notices of Claim, Summonses, and Complaints, or Subpoenas for records and other documents that must be served upon an officer of the Port Authority or of the respective entity in the State of New Jersey may be made at the New Jersey offices of the Law Department of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It is necessary at both these locations to furnish appropriate photo identification.
Lawsuits against the Port Authority have a one-year statute of limitations. Moreover, claimants should file claims from the agency at least sixty days before filing their complaints. The lawsuit must be started within one year from the date of the accident.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port Authority accepts process service by registered mail. Additionally, mask protocol has been mandated. Any individual utilizing Port Authority services, such as airport terminals, PATH stations and trains, AirTrain stations and trains, and bus terminals, is expected to use face coverings to shield fellow travelers and staff from transmitting COVID-19. Travelers who do not wear a mask or face protection are faced with a USD 50 penalty. This policy was initiated on Monday, November 2.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey follows the health and safety protocols for the novel coronavirus established by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health, and the New Jersey Department of Health. In reaction to COVID-19, the agency altered its buildings’ operational footprints, altered protection and repair procedures, and introduced new cleaning and disinfecting protocols. If required, the Port Authority has sworn to continue reviewing and upgrading its procedures in the face of the pandemic.
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1. This 1,500-square-mile (3,900-square-kilometer) port district is normally bounded by a 25-mile (40-kilometer) radius around the Statue of Liberty National Monument
2.The Port Authority is headquartered at 4 World Trade Centre in Lower ManhattanThe agency was headquartered at 1 World Trade Centre in the first World Trade Centre complex, where it occupied 22,411 square feet (2,082.1 m2) of space. It had been headquartered in the WTC complex beginning in 1973. After the previous headquarters were destroyed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Port Authority moved into 225 Park Avenue South in Midtown Manhattan, with employees divided between offices in New York and New Jersey, before returning to the World Trade Centre in 2015.
3. Including Commissioner David Mack as Chairman and Commissioner Bruce Blakeman as Vice Chairman
4. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie named former New Jersey Attorney General David Samson as the Port Authority’s new chairman on February 3, 2011. In March 2016, Gov. Christie declared Samson’s resignation due to the “Bridgegate” corruption probe.
5. Trippe v Port of N.Y.Auth.,14 NY2d119,123
6. Addressed to:
4 World Trade Centre, 150 Greenwich Street,
New York, NY 10007.
7. McKinney’s Unconsolidated Laws of NY § 7108 further provides that “The notice of claim . . . shall be in writing, sworn to by or on behalf of the claimant or claimants, and shall set forth (1) the name and post office address of each claimant and his attorney, if any, (2) the nature of the claim, (3) the time when, the place where and how the claim arose, and (4) the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained so far as then practicable. Such notice may be served in the manner in which process may be served, or in lieu thereof, may be sent by registered mail to the port authority at its principal office.”
8.Tort claims against some Authorities should not be served on the Comptroller’s Office and must be served on the Authority or its designated agent:
- New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA)
- New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
- Triboro Bridge & Tunnel Authority
- Port Authority of NY and NJ
- Manhattan, Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MABSTOA)
- New York City School Construction Authority
- New York City Health + Hospitals (HH)
- Staten Island Rapid Transit Authority
- MTA Bus Company (MTABC)
- Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
- Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority
9. New Jersey address at: at 2 Montgomery Street, 3rd Floor, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
10. Relevant New Jersey statute: NJ Rev Stat § 32:1-163 (2015)
32:1-163. Limitations; notice of claim; workmen’s compensation claims
The foregoing consent is granted upon the condition that any suit, action, or proceeding prosecuted or maintained under this act shall be commenced within one year after the cause of action, therefore, shall have accrued. Upon the further condition that in the case of any suit, action or proceeding for the recovery or payment of money, prosecuted or maintained under this act, a notice of claim shall have been served upon the Port Authority by or on behalf of the plaintiff or plaintiffs at least sixty days before such suit, action or proceeding is commenced. This section’s provisions shall not apply to claims arising out of provisions of any workmen’s compensation law of either State.
L.1951, c. 204, p. 741, s. 7.
11.McKinney’s Unconsolidated Laws of NY § 7107 provides that “…any suit, action or proceeding prosecuted or maintained under this act shall be commenced within one year after the cause of action, therefore, shall have accrued, and upon the further condition that in the case of any suit, action or proceeding for the recovery or payment of money, prosecuted or maintained under this act, a notice of claim shall have been served upon the port authority by or on behalf of the plaintiff or plaintiffs at least sixty days before such suit, action or proceeding is commenced.”