The MTA and NYCTA are both named in a legal complaint alleging "gross negligence" after a subway conductor closed the train doors on a young boy late last year. With the child trapped half inside, half outside the car, the train's operator allegedly drove roughly 40 feet down the tracks, dragging the kid's body alongside the train. As a result, the boy—now 9—sustained serious injuries that needed surgery, and currently uses a wheelchair. His mother, Melissa Capers, took further legal action this month, demanding the MTA address a $22 million claim she filed in the incident's wake.
On December 10th, 2017, around 1:05 p.m., Capers's son (referred to as J.C. in court documents) attempted to board a Manhattan-bound L train at Atlantic Avenue. According to the complaint, the doors "suddenly" closed before he made it all the way into the car, allegedly "without warning." Without the conductor "taking any steps to ensure that the train was free and clear of any passengers approaching or at the door, the train began to move," the complaint claims.
J.C., wedged between the sliding panels, fell "between the train gap and the platform," which in turn meant his body was "twisted and dragged for several feet." The conductor only stopped the train because "people were screaming," according to the NY Post.
J.C. wound up with two badly broken legs as a result of what Capers's attorney, Edward Steinberg, characterized as "carelessness, gross negligence, [and] recklessness" by the MTA and NYCTA. The injuries required extensive surgery, including the insertion and removal of hardware into and from J.C.'s legs. He's currently relearning how to walk.
"It is our opinion that, based upon the facts of the accident, the investigation by the police as well as witnesses, the MTA and NYCTA were negligent in allowing the train to move forward in such a manner while J.C. was stuck at the door," Steinberg told Gothamist. Additionally, the complaint alleges, the MTA and NYCTA must take responsibility for the "unreasonable and dangerous" gap between platform and train at the Atlantic Avenue station.
The MTA declined to comment on the case, but certainly, it is alarming how frequently people get sandwiched between closing doors. In 2017, for example, a viral video appeared to show an MTA worker strolling past a woman whose head had been locked outside her train car when the doors closed on her neck. Granted, that train stayed stopped in the station and the MTA said at the time that the worker had already spoken with the helpless woman before the video was filmed, but in other instances, passengers have been killed after getting clamped in the doors. And earlier this month, a Staten Island bus driver came under fire for allegedly closing the door on a young girl and continuing to drive with her arm trapped. Similarly, that driver allegedly only brought the bus to a halt after other passengers screamed at her to stop.