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MTA Has To Turn Over Penn Station Video for Trip-and-Fall Lawsuit: Judge

By Katie Honan | May 10, 2017 11:33am
 Malcolm Babel says he tripped over MTA equipment at Penn Station last July. 
Malcolm Babel says he tripped over MTA equipment at Penn Station last July. 
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MIDTOWN — The MTA has to release surveillance footage from inside Penn Station after a judge ruled in favor of a man who says he needs the film to prove a bag of electrical equipment left out near the Long Island Rail Road tracks made him fall and break his hip, according to court documents.

Lawyer Malcolm Babel wrote in court papers that he tried obtaining the video through a Freedom of Information Law request last August, in a bid to prove that the MTA was at fault for the spill he took near a Hudson News outpost in the terminal after 5 p.m. on July 3, 2016.

He was hospitalized for five days with a fractured shoulder and hairline fracture in his hip, he said.

The MTA first denied Babel's request, saying he would need a subpoena. The legal team for Hudson News, who operates the newsstands, ignored his request, he wrote in court documents.

So the Bayside lawyer — who specializes in divorces and other family law — filed for a subpoena in Queens Civil Court in November that would force the surveillance video to be released.

Babel plans to sue, and would need the video to do so, he wrote. 

In April, Judge Salvatore Modica granted his request in Queens Supreme Court, saying “Babel’s affirmations sufficiently provide justification for the pre-action discovery.”

He ordered the MTA’s lawyer to make a “comprehensive search” for video, which the victim narrowed down to the Hudson News stand, near a Starbucks by the departure gates, he wrote.

Babel was headed to a 5:18 p.m. train when he believed he tripped over “some bag not far from an MTA LIRR electrical outlet that is obviously used for their work,” he said.

“At the time of the accident, I was in ferocious pain,” he wrote in an affidavit filed Jan. 18, 2017."I knew I was damaged and would be hospitalized.”

Babel, whose website says he was a Legal Aid lawyer before turning to familial cases, declined to comment on the case when reached by phone.

“I never talk to reporters,” he told DNAinfo.

A spokeswoman for the MTA said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation or open cases.