Renowned environmental lawyer and host of "Voices of the Law" Jan Schlichtmann has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming tolls collected on the Massachusetts Turnpike are an illegal tax.
Jan Schlichtmann's complaint filed Friday in Middlesex Superior Court on behalf of three drivers who use the highway seeks a refund that could amount to $300 million.
Schlichtmann tells Scott Drake that tolls collected on the Pike are "an unconstitutional expropriation of money" because they are used to pay for other projects, including the $15 billion Big Dig.
He says there is legal precedent supporting his clients and making this a potentially major case regarding the improper use of toll or tax money.
Turnpike spokesman Colin Durrant refused to comment on pending litigation.
Schlichtmann contends tolls are fees that should only benefit the roads they provide access to. “There have been several cases in which this principle has been affirmed, but nothing on this scale,” he said. Furthermore, the cutting edge use of a 468B settlement trust to lead the case vs the filing of a class action is certainly a first for the Commonwealth, if not the nation. Jan recently appeared at a seminar in Phoenix, AZ outlining the use of 468B trusts on the front end of major mass tort cases or large scale claims and this is the first example of the innovative use of these incredibly powerful litigation tools.
If the lawsuit were to prevail, the Pike’s estimated liability is at least $300 million, Schlichtmann said. But more than a cash-grab, he said, the suit seeks to “get the toll-payer a seat at the table.”
Source: AP, Hub Politics, LBN
Scott Drake talks with Jan Schlichtmann in the attached video below about the $300 million law suit against the Mass Turnpike.