A man crushed by a moving subway platform in Manhattan has announced plans to launch a $15 million lawsuit against the city.
On December 10, 41-year-old Michael Dion was waiting for the 4 train, which runs along Lexington Avenue, at the 14th Street-Union Square station.
That station features a sharply curved track that creates an unusually wide gap between the platform and the train. To compensate for the gap, the platform features several moving metal grates, which jut forward to connect the platform to the subway cars after a train has pulled in. Once the train leaves the station, the grates retract back into the platform.
Incident a “nightmare”
Dion apparently fell into the gap after the train pulled up, but before the platform fully extended. As a result, he was crushed between the platform and the train, which his lawyer says caused “virtually all of his internal abdominal organs [to become] either lacerated or severely injured.” Both sides of Dion’s pelvis were also fractured.
Dion remained stuck for half an hour as Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) workers struggled to get the platform to retract. None of the workers who initially responded to the incident were trained in how to disengage the platform’s hydraulics.
“It's a nightmare, plain and simple,” Dion’s lawyer, Jay Dankner, told The New York Post. “It is such a horrifying experience that is going to last him forever.
“What really makes him break down is how close to death he really was,” Dankner added.
Dion wants changes to system
Dion has filed a notice of claim against the MTA and NYC Transit, an arm of the MTA that oversees the subway, which is the first step toward filing a lawsuit, according to the Daily Mail.
Dion says that his suit is about more than money; it’s about preventing similar injuries in the future.
“Something must be done to fix this dangerous condition before someone else is seriously injured or killed,” Dion told the Post. “The people who ride their subways and trains deserve to be protected from these unnecessary and dangerous hazards.”
Dankner pointed out that a similarly-shaped platform, at the South Ferry station, has a chain to prevent riders from falling into the gap, and said that the Union Square station needs a similar mechanism.
Train gaps require close attention
How Dion fell into the gap is not entirely clear. Police initially said they thought he had been drinking, but Dankner denied that claim. Photos of the ordeal show Dion wearing earbud headphones, suggesting that he may not have heard automated announcements warning passengers to “stand clear of the moving platform as trains enter and leave the station.”
Train and subway gaps are notoriously dangerous and require passengers to pay close attention, especially when boarding and exiting trains. In 2006, teenager Natalie Smead was killed after she slipped through the gap at the Woodside station on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Smead tried to crawl to the platform on the opposite side of the station and was struck by an oncoming train.
The accident spurred the LIRR to launch a campaign warning passengers of the gap, and to reduce gaps measuring more than 10 inches wide.
And last year, a jury awarded $247,500 to Judith Cohen, after the 72-year-old New Yorker fell into an LIRR gap at the Huntington station.