Jackson Heights Community Sues MTA for Dangerous Lead Hazard on Roosevelt Avenue


Jackson Heights, NY – Earlier today NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm gathered on Roosevelt Avenue with Jackson Heights business owners, residents, environmental attorneys and other elected officials to announce a class action lawsuit against the MTA for harming public health with lead hazard on the Roosevelt Avenue train trestles.

“This lawsuit is a response to an urgent public health crisis that has endangered our community for far too long,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), who identified this concern over seven years ago.  “The facts are clear: lead levels in the paint chipping away from the 7 train trestles are over 40 times what they should be.  Alarmingly, the MTA has been aware of and ignored these emergency conditions for years.  For decades, they allowed this and the surrounding property to fall into disrepair.  The MTA’s failure to address these hazardous conditions puts our families at risk.  By filing this lawsuit, we seek to compel the MTA to take immediate action and restore safety for the thousands of men, women and children who live, work and go to the school near Roosevelt Avenue.”

Residents and property owners are currently endangered by lead and other hazardous materials released from the elevated structures of the MTA’s 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue. This elevated track and supporting structures has been neglected and poorly maintained for decades. Copious amounts of peeling lead paint, rust, structural wear and pigeon droppings are visible to, and falling on, pedestrians under and adjacent to the train trestle.

The lawsuit details how the MTA has wrongfully, knowingly, deliberately, intentionally, and as a matter of policy permitted a dangerous condition to exist and to continue to exist by:

●  causing these structures to be covered with lead containing paints and other toxic substances in the first place,

●  failing to adequately inspect, maintain and repair these elevated structures,

●  failing to remediate or abate the dangerous conditions respecting these elevated structures,

●  failing to clean up and otherwise minimize the hazardous conditions caused by the release of lead, lead based paint and other toxins from these structures, and

●  falsely representing that no health hazard exists when it knows that the opposite is the case

Kate Foran, Phillips & Paolicelli LLP, said, “As counsel for these Plaintiffs we believe that the MTA’s knowing and continuing refusal to deal with the public health emergency that lead paint from the Flushing Line poses is unconscionable. Not only does it place small children, pregnant women and the rest of this community at great and cumulative risk, but it does so every day. This conduct, we believe, violates both Federal and State Law. It is our intention to ask the court to impose both a preliminary and a final injunction to compel the MTA to address this situation properly, once and for all.”

“I signed onto to this class action lawsuit to urge the MTA to put children and families first,” said plaintiff Tammy Rose, the Executive Director of Jackson Heights Early Learning Center.  “They are the most vulnerable and depend on the #7 train line to get their children to school.  They also walk under the train trestles every day.  The lead paint particles and debris that children have to endure on a daily basis could be quickly remediated by the MTA if they upheld their own mission statement which is to preserve and enhance the quality of life and economic health of the regions they serve. Now is the time for the MTA to act and take a stand to protect our children and families.”

“I am extremely concerned about the presence of dangerous lead paint in the Roosevelt Avenue elevated train as the result of the MTA’s failure to maintain this structure and their contempt for our community,” said Dudley Stewart, a plaintiff and the president of Jackson Heights Green Alliance. “It is our hope that this lawsuit will fix this situation immediately and prevent any more people from getting harmed by toxic lead paint.”

“The MTA’s failure to adequately maintain the elevated 7-line across Roosevelt Avenue is jeopardizing the health of the communities that live below,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx). “The results of the recent analysis conducted on the paint chips falling from the structure are alarming and we can no longer afford to sit idly by as the MTA fails to address these hazardous conditions.”

“After Council Member Dromm and I spoke with DC9 about the paint chipping off from the 7-line, they tested for lead and the results were alarming,” said Assemblymember Francisco P. Moya.  “The community is rightfully concerned that the high lead concentrations in the paint is a health hazard, and must be immediately remediated by scraping the existing paint and providing a new coat. Congressman Crowley, Council Member Dromm and I requested that the MTA provide a timeline for addressing the lead paint, but their lack of response illustrates that the agency has been unwilling to give this issue the attention it warrants. The MTA has had every opportunity to acknowledge this problem, but chose instead to dismiss these concerns and now the community must take action. I stand by the community’s decision to file a class action lawsuit and will support their commendable efforts in every way possible.”

Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland said, “For decades the structure of the 7 train has been neglected by the MTA, creating conditions that endanger the health and safety of our community, most of whom are people of color.  And while the cost of public transportation continues to increase almost every year, the MTA has failed to invest in remediating these conditions.  I commend Council Member Dromm for leading the charge to get the truth and hold the MTA accountable.  Our community deserves better.”

Photo Caption: Council Member Daniel Dromm (center) calls attention to toxic lead paint peeling from the 7 train line trestles on Roosevelt Avenue






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