MTA’s Self Critical Standard of Care Higher? … Not in the Courtroom (NY)

In Williams v. New York City Tr. Auth., the First Department re-iterated a long-standing rule that a defendant cannot be held to a higher standard of care than required by the common law.

At the second trial of liability—the first judgment was vacated for a different reason—the plaintiff introduced testimony from an MTA investigator that the operator of the bus that struck plaintiff was driving too close to the curb. The investigator, however, testified that the MTA’s operating criteria and standards are much higher than anyone else’s.

On appeal, the First Department vacated the judgment, finding that the admission of the investigator’s testimony that the MTA holds its driver to a higher standard of care than required by the common law was clearly erroneous.

Let this be a reminder to all companies, common carriers especially: although your regulations may hold your employees to a higher standard, for the purposes of legal liability, what matters is the common law.

Special thanks to Gabe Darwick for his contribution.

For more information, contact Denise Ricci at