As of Jan. 10, at least six N.J. residents have banded together in a class-action lawsuit against N.J. Governor Chris Christie and other high ranking officials, including the now fired and former Christie aide Bridget Kelly, for their part in shutting down traffic on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now known as “Bridgegate.”
In addition to Christie and Kelly, the lawsuit also names the state of New Jersey, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and “two former Port Authority officials who resigned in December over the controversy,” according to a Jan. 10 Time report.
The lawsuit claims that the traffic jams resulted in a “conspiracy” and “willful, wanton, arbitrary, and egregious official misconduct,” according to The Christian Science Monitor.
In his lengthy press conference on Thursday, Christie said he was embarrassed, humiliated, and blindsided by the actions of his aide Bridget Kelly’s involvement in closing down several lanes of the George Washington Bridge leading from Fort Lee, N.J. to N.Y. in apparent retribution for Fort Lee’s mayor not endorsing Christie for governor in his last gubernatorial bid.
Christie apologized to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, and all residents of the Garden State for the lane closures and the resulting traffic jams that lasted for four days, even though the governor said he didn’t know anything about his inner circle being responsible for the N.J. gridlock at the time it happened.
The final number of plaintiffs in the class-action suit has not yet been determined, but according to the filing, possible plaintiffs include “any and all individuals and business owners” who were negatively affected by the massive four-day traffic jam in Fort Lee last year.
Christie made a personal appearance at the office of Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich to apologize for the lane closures.
“I’m glad he came. I take him for his word, which is he had nothing to do with it,” Sokolich said.
In addition to lost income as a result of the Sept. 2013 lane closures, the lawsuit claims a public health hazard was created which caused many stuck in traffic on the bridge to experience high anxiety and panic attacks.
On the very first day of the lane closures, a 91-year-woman, Florence Genova, died of a heart attack in the gridlock. Because of the traffic, it took emergency medical personnel much longer than usual to reach the woman’s location.
According to The Daily News, Genova’s family isn’t holding Christie and Bridgegate responsible for the woman’s death.
“My mother-in-law was already dead when they got there,” said Frank Oleri, the son-in-law of Florence Genova.
“They couldn’t revive her.”
Although attorney Rosemarie Arnold, who brought forth the class action lawsuit, conceded that some might deem the lawsuit as frivolous, she insisted that damages as a result of Bridgegate were real.
"You were gridlocked in every sense of the word," she said. "It was anxiety producing."
For more on the lawsuit facing Gov. Chris Christie over the "Bridgegate" scandal, see the video accompanying this article.
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