Fed. Court Okays New Jersey "Pauper's" Lawsuit Against Port Authority Toll Hikes

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[New Jersey]

The Federal Court in the Southern District in Manhattan has okayed a New Jersey resident's lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which he claims unfairly targets minimum wage earners, to proceed.

The court approved Yoel Weisshaus' application that he be allowed to represent himself in the lawsuit, and not have to pay court fees, because he's too poor to afford counsel.

The New Jersey residents says the toll increase -- a  50% increase for cars from $12 from $8 and for E-ZPass tolls to $9.50 from $8-- prevents him from excercising his right to travel freely, including to visit his elderly grandparents in Brooklyn, since he's too poor to pay the tolls. What's more Weisshaus wants all monies raised through tolls to be used for bridge, tunnel and road repairs and not for unrelated projects such as reconstruction of The World Trade Center "a project that is not related to crossing the Hudson River."

Weisshaus is a grand son of Gizella Weisshaus, the holocaust survivor who filed the famous lawsuit against Swiss banks years ago for looted assets of survivors and descendants of those killed. He says his ability to visit his grandmother "is deeply affected by the decision of the Port Authority to increase toll prices without proper justification."

The younger Weisshaus filed his suit September 19, 2011, one month after the tolls increases were approved.

Weisshaus has now demanded all communications related to the toll hike, between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey's Chris Christie, through a  Freedom of Information request application.

Weisshaus said he filed the FOIL request after he learned from a Daily News report of September 22, 2011, that governors Christie and Cuomo had dined this summer at the Beacon Restaurant in Manhattan. Christie later said he learned of the toll increase and its magnitude in a briefing after the governors had dined. Weisshaus wants to know if the governors had actually discussed the increases during their meal together.

"Disclosure of the communication between the governors about the toll price increase is expected to reveal to the public what really compelled the governors to go along with the Port Authority and increase the toll prices," Weisshaus says.

The docket number is SDNY 11-cv-6616.  Weisshaus can be reached at YoelWeisshaus@yahoo.com


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