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.