Jan R. Schlichtmann, the attorney made famous in the 1998 film "A Civil Action", has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 3 drivers who claim they have been paying tolls on Massachusetts state highways illegally. The tolls are allegedly illegal because the revenue is not used to fund turnpike projects in Massachusetts, but rather to pay down the debt incurred by the infamous "Big Dig" project, which has left the state in debt for millions of dollars.
Schlichtmann claims that of every dollar collected in tolls, 58 cents has been used to try and pay off the Big Dig debt. Furthermore, the tolls collected on Route 128 in Allston and Brighton, and at collection points at the Ted Williams, Callahan and Sumner Tunnels have contributed to the Big Dig overruns without improvements to infrastructure, which is what they are meant to provide.
Consequently, people paying the tolls are being unfairly burdened, people like Sandra Murphy, a nurse and lead plaintiff in the suit, who has been commuting on the Turnpike for 16 years, and who doesn't drive anywhere near the Big Dig.
It is believed that the Turnpike Authority could be on the hook for up to $300 million dollars, should the lawsuit prevail. Reportedly, over 1,000 people have already joined the class action.