class action, commuter, railroad, CPLR Article 9


A class action brought under the New York statute (modeled after Federal Rule 23 of Civil Procedure) is an appropriate procedural device for remedying the continual breaches of the commuter carriage contract. In Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. Puritan Coal Mining Co., the Supreme Court held that the common law mandates that common carriers treat passengers reasonably. Additionally, in the contract carriage, the carrier impliedly guarantees that the vehicle is in sound and proper order. Individual suits, unfortunately, have little effect on the actions of the common carriers; only nominal damages have been awarded in commuter actions against railroads for equipment failure, unreasonably delays, and poor conditions. However, the class action remedy may be helpful to the consumer--and thus--the commuter. Article 9 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR), which was changed in 1975, changed the class action statute in New York to provide a more flexible, functional scheme for certifying classes and to prescribe basic guidelines for judicial management of class actions. Courts have narrowly interpreted Article 9 of the CPLR, however, and this interpretation should be broadened to align with the article's legislative purpose.



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