NEW YORK — A commuter who was onboard a subway train that derailed in Harlem this week is seeking millions of dollars in damages from the MTA, she and her lawyer said Thursday.
Sheena Tucker has filed a notice of claim for $5 million, according to the the law firm of Rubenstein & Rynecki.
A spokesman for the MTA said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
Tucker was among dozens of commuters who were hurt when a train derailed Tuesday morning in Harlem. MTA officials blamed the problem on “human error” — namely, an errant piece of replacement rail left on the tracks.
Tucker was going to a doctor appointment when she boarded the train.
A few minutes after the train started to move, it came to a screeching halt, sending riders swaying throughout the car, she said. Then “everything went black” and sparks started to fly.
“Majority of people thought it was a terrorist attack and everybody was just scared for their lives,” Tucker said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“I was being pushed. I was trampled. I passed out for a second. I was throwing up, the smoke inhalation, I couldn’t really breathe. I was choking a lot. I’m just happy that I’m here.”
She said she’s still suffering from pain in her back and neck, and a sore throat. A CAT scan led to her being diagnosed with a protruding disc in her thoracic spin, Rubenstein said.
“We look forward ultimately to a jury deciding what damages she’s entitled to. But the truth of the matter is, wouldn’t money be better spent making capital repairs instead of giving damages to victims…?” Rubenstein said.
Tucker said she doesn’t plan on taking the MTA again. Both Tucker and Rubenstein said the transit agency has not contacted them.
The city’s subways and commuter trains have been plagued by rising delays and unreliable service. Two weeks ago, it was announced that Amtrak repair work at Penn Station promises to create a “summer of hell” for travelers.
On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the aging transit system. He ordered MTA chief Joe Lhota to submit an improvement plan within 30 days and review the agency’s capital plan within 60 days.