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Lawsuit Seeks Punitive Damages Over GWB Lane Closures

George Washington Bridge (file/credit: CBS 2)

George Washington Bridge (file/credit: CBS 2)

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FORT LEE, N.J. (CBSNewYork)Six Bergen County residents have filed a class action lawsuit over the George Washington Bridge lane closures.

The plaintiffs are seeking punitive damages for being denied their 14th Amendment right to “life, liberty and property” because they were “trapped on local roads” during the road closures, resulting in their being late for work and ending up with docked pay, according to the complaint.

Gov. Chris Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, Bill Baroni, David Wildstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The complaint says the defendants partook in “willful, wanton, arbitrary and egregious official conduct.”

The governor announced in his Thursday morning press conference that he had fired Kelly, his deputy chief of staff, over recently released emails that showed she was involved in the unsanctioned lane closures.

Two of three approach lanes were closed in Fort Lee in Sept. over four days, causing major gridlock.

WEB EXTRA: Read The Complaint (pdf)

Baroni and Wildstein were two of Christie’s top appointees to the Port Authority. Both men have resigned over the scandal.

Attorney Rosemarie Arnold said she filed the suit after learning this week that lane closures on an approach to the George Washington Bridge were “deliberate actions.” She said that her clients were late for work and that one suffered a panic attack.

“She was able to get out of the car, she threw up, but she couldn’t just leave the car there, so she had to stay,” Arnold told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.

Christie on Thursday denied involvement with the scandal.

“I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue. In this planning, or its execution, and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here, regardless of what the facts ultimately uncovered, this was handled in a callous and indifferent way,” the governor said.

Arnold said the question of whether or not Christie knew anything about the lane closures was irrelevant.

“It doesn’t matter at all to the lawsuit whether knew personally or not. As he says, this is his fault,” she said. “It’s his administration. It’s his responsibility.”

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

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