Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Will City Go To Court To Get SEPTA Back to Work?

Mayor Nutter today said the city is reviewing whether it could seek an injunction to send striking SEPTA employees back to work.

Will City Go To Court To Get SEPTA Back to Work?

Mayor Nutter today said the city is reviewing whether it could seek an injunction to send striking SEPTA employees back to work.

“The standards for an injunction, based on previous court rulings are fairly high and fairly specific,” Nutter said. “We’ve been monitoring all the elements of the strike since Tuesday. But ultimately that’s a legal matter and a legal decision based on those standards.”

Nutter said the city was particularly concerned about the public health impact of the strike, given the public health emergency declared to deal with the H1N1 flu.

“The city solicitor, the law department, all of our public safety areas and public health areas have been monitoring the impact of the strike from, not just an inconvenience standpoint, but from a true impact of people trying to get to their doctor or to their hospital,” Nutter said. “There is a health emergency that was declared by the city and the state related to H1N1 and we’re very concerned that medical care may not be provided.”

But Nutter did not provide a time frame for the decision, saying it would depend on when the city met the necessary criteria.

“It’s a fact based decision. If you look at the rulings from the past, there are a series of factors you have to take into consideration,” Nutter said. “It’s not something to make a decision on today or at any moment. If you’re going to go, you should go with the best facts and the best case available.”

UPDATE, 11:55 a.m.: We just spoke with City Solicitor Shelley Smith, who made clear that the city does not plan to go to court right away. She said that to get an injunction, the city would have to show "clear and present danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public."

To show that, Smith said, the city would need to provide the court with witnesses who could testify that they could not get health care or access emergency services because of the strike. So far, they have no such examples.

"We've been monitoring for that kind of evidence and we have none," Smith said, noting that it will take more time and data collection for the city to know if they can go to court.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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