Judge Delivers MassPike Drivers Another Setback

The lawyer representing a group of Massachusetts Turnpike drivers said he will appeal a ruling rejecting their effort to block the state from diverting their toll money to the Big Dig.

Class-action attorney Jan Schlichtmann is representing drivers who complain tolls from the east-west road have and continue to be diverted to pay for construction costs from the north-south Big Dig project.

“We intend to immediately appeal this ruling to the appeals court," Schlichtmann said, "in hopes that the appeals court will vindicate this fundamental, constitutional principal: that fees cannot be imposed on people in which some are paying for the use of a system by the majority.

Middlesex Superior Court Justice Herman Smith Jr. on Monday denied a request for a restraining order to prevent the practice. Smith previously denied the drivers' request to place a hold on Turnpike assets while their case was heard.

The judge's refusal to grant an injunction against the turnpike is the second setback for the toll-payers, after he denied their request to place a hold on turnpike assets.

State Treasurer Timothy Cahill recently warned the Patrick administration it could face a $400 million claim if it lost the suit. A Turnpike official said Cahill's letter contained "several basic inaccuracies."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on August 18, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.


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