Public transit riders who were stuck all night in a train trapped by snow after a blizzard last year sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Tuesday, saying officials told them it was simply "an act of God."
In court papers describing the ordeal, they said they had no heat, food, water or bathroom facilities while the MTA kept promising help.
The city was all but paralyzed when the storm hit Dec. 26, 2010, with 2 feet of snow piled around an A train on elevated tracks in Queens. Inside were about 500 passengers who spent eight hours in freezing temperatures.
The conductor refused to allow passengers off the train, "resulting in a deplorable imprisonment," said the 22 plaintiffs in the suit filed in State Supreme Court in Queens.
They are seeking unspecified damages from the New York City Transit Authority, part of the MTA, which runs the nation's largest mass transit system.
Manhattan attorney Aymen Aboushi said the stranded passengers decided to sue after a year of meetings with transit officials convinced them that suing was the only way to get the MTA to pay attention. He said he is handling the case pro bono in hopes of forcing changes in the emergency response system to avert a similar nightmare.
More than 2 feet of snow fell on some parts of New York City during the storm, combined with winds that led to a massive transportation gridlock.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration was criticized for its slow response to the foul weather and its aftermath. Streets went unplowed for days, and cars, buses and other vehicles were stranded. Bloomberg acknowledged the response wasn't good enough.
A year later, more than $1.8 million has been paid out in claims, with more claims pending from people who said they were injured on snowy and icy roads and walkways or whose cars and other property were damaged from snow removal efforts, according to the city comptroller's office.
Passengers on the stranded A train say their frantic cellphone calls to 911 and the MTA did not result in any action -- or even helpful information.
Several people had to be hospitalized after finally being rescued from the Manhattan-bound train, which was stuck between stations..