Federal lawsuit filed over bridge lane closures

Six New Jersey residents have filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and others over the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September.

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The lawsuit, filed in federal court Thursday by Fort Lee, N.J. lawyer Rosemarie Arnold, is the first civil suit addressing the closures, which caused gridlock in Fort Lee for four days in September.

The lawsuit comes as the New Jersey State Assembly committee investigating the situation prepares Friday to release hundreds of pages of documents secured as the result of a subpoena from former Port Authority official David Wildstein, a main player in the closures.

Democrats assert — and exchanges between a former Christie aide and Wildstein that recently became public appear to confirm — that the closures were an act of political retribution from Christie allies against the mayor of Fort Lee after he declined to endorse the governor for reelection.

The plaintiffs hope to have the lawsuit certified as a class action lawsuit, allowing them to sue on behalf of all those impacted by the lane closures.

The defendants include Christie; Bill Baroni and Wildstein, his two Port Authority appointees accused of orchestrating the lane closures; and Bridget Anne Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff. Emails released Wednesday revealed Kelly told Wildstein it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Christie announced during a press conference on Thursday that he fired Kelly and vowed to cooperate with ongoing investigations into the closures by the state legislature and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The lawsuit charges, among other complaints, the closures caused the plaintiffs to be late for or to miss work, a situation that violated the 14th Amendment.