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Retired officer sues Port Authority for breach of contract

Most companies and government agencies offer some type of benefits and perks to their employees, and many extend these to their retirees. Some of the perks are financial, which can be extra helpful to those on a fixed income. But what happens when these benefits suddenly become invalid?

A retired police officer has filed a class action suit against his former employer, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He claims it has revoked his and other retirees’ right to free tolls for life, a benefit he says was promised to him when he started his job at the Port Authority in 1971. He’s seeking damages for breach of contract, breach of promise and unjust enrichment.

The man, who retired from the Port Authority in 1998, says the agency broke its promise to employees with a vote in December 2010 that rescinded their right to free tolls on bridges and tunnels, as well as free parking at airports managed by the Port Authority. The retirees must now pay up to $12 per crossing of all the bridges and tunnels, and an average of $24 for four-hour parking at airports. These tolls can add up quickly for regular users, particularly those no longer actively earning a salary.

The retired officer estimates that the class contains more than 4,000 retirees, and says that 400 have notified him of claims they filed. As of yet, the officer has not hired an attorney. Instead he’s filed the claim himself. But in what could be a sizeable lawsuit affecting thousands of people, he may be better off retaining a qualified business lawyer experienced in class action suits that involve breach of contract.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Port Authority Retirees Fight for Free Tolls,” Chris Fry, Dec. 30, 2011

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