We recently posted a blog about premises liability and an Atlanta MARTA rider’s suit against MARTA. That case ended on Friday with a jury award of 1.4 million to the plaintiff.
This verdict re-affirms the importance of property owners’ responsibility to maintain a safe environment for guests an invitees on that property. The jury did not find Elevator Specialists, Inc., the company MARTA fired in 2007, to be liable. MARTA and the remaining firm contracted to maintain station escalators, Schindler Corp., had a responsibility to anyone riding their escalators to keep them in safe working condition.
MARTA is governed by a board, consisting of representatives appointed from the city of Atlanta (3 members), and the remainder of the counties of Fulton (3 members), Clayton (2 members) and DeKalb (4 members). Additionally, there is 1 member from the Georgia Department of Transportation, and 1 member from Georgia Regional Transportation Authority) who also serve on the MARTA Board of Directors.
Positions on the MARTA board are directly appointed by the organizations they represent. Although the state of Georgia does not contribute to MARTA’s operational funding, it still has voting members on the MARTA board. A similar situation existed for both Clayton and Gwinnett counties during most of MARTA’s history; as a consequence of passing the authorization referendum but not the funding referendum.
The highest position at MARTA is the general manager and chief executive officer. In October 2007, Dr. Beverly A. Scott was named the new general manager. Prior to joining MARTA, Dr. Scott served as GM/CEO of the Sacramento Regional Transit District. She has over 30 years of experience in the transportation industry. After 5 years at MARTA, she decided not to renew her contract with MARTA’s Board of Directors. Scott’s last day was December 9, 2012. Keith Parker is MARTA’s General Manager/CEO. Prior to Dr. Scott, MARTA’s General Manager was Richard McCrillis from 2006 to 2007. In October 2007, McCrillis retired after 22 years of service at MARTA.
The Georgia General Assembly has a standing committee that is charged with financial oversight of the agency. During the 2009 legislative session, Representative Jill Chambers, introduced a bill that would place MARTA under GRTA, and permanently remove the requirement that MARTA split its expenditures 50/50 between capital and operations. This would allow MARTA to avoid service cuts at times when sales tax revenue is low due to recession, without having to ask the state legislature for temporary exemptions (typically a 55/45 split) as it has received before. The bill was not passed, but the funding restrictions were removed in 2015.
Due to it’s quasi-governmental structure, suing MARTA has it pitfalls. If you have suffered a serious injury on MARTA premises or due to the negligence of MARTA, you should hire an experienced Georgia lawyer who is well versed in how to sue MARTA.