Manhattan Judge throws out lawsuits from bereaved family members who claim the George Washington Bridge is a ‘suicide magnet’ – and says jumpers determine their own fate
- In 2017 jazz singer Lael Feldman, 24, and architect Andrew Donaldson, 49, committed suicide in separate incidents at the George Washington Bridge
- Their families filed $40million and $100million lawsuits respectively afterwards
- They claimed the bridge between New Jersey and New York is a ‘suicide magnet’
- Manhattan Judge Arlene Bluth recently threw out the lawsuits saying jumpers make the bridge dangerous for themselves
- She said: ‘The wrongful death action claimed here did not arise because of a dangerous condition on the bridge’
- In September 2017 Port Authority set up metal fences to stop the suicides
- In 2017 there were a total of 15 suicides from the bridge
A Manhattan judge has thrown out two lawsuits that claim the George Washington Bridge in New York is dangerous after 15 people jumped to their deaths there last year.
The heartbroken families of jazz musician Lael Feldman, 24, and Freedom Tower architect Andrew Donaldson, 49, who both committed suicide from the bridge in 2017, sued Port Authority this year.
They claimed saying that the George Washington bridge is a ‘suicide magnet’ and the city didn’t do enough prevent people from taking their own lives there.
However, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arlene Bluth recently threw out the cumulative $140million suits saying no one is to blame but the jumpers themselves.
A Judge threw out two cumulative $140million lawsuits against the George Washington Bridge, which connects New York and New Jersey, filed by the families of two individuals who committed suicide there
In 2017 jazz singer Lael Feldman, 24, (left) and architect Andrew Donaldson, 49, (right) committed suicide in separate incidents at the George Washington Bridge. Their families sued Port Authority afterwards calling the bridge a ‘suicide magnet’
‘A dangerous condition cannot be created simply because someone makes it dangerous for himself,’ Bluth wrote according to the New York Post.
‘Most property owners have no idea about the mental state of the people who traverse their properties. They cannot be held liable because someone makes the tragic decision to take his own life,’ she added.
Judge Arlene Bluth said tossed out the lawsuits saying: ‘The wrongful death action claimed here did not arise because of a dangerous condition on the bridge’
Feldman struggled with depression for years and had several other suicide attempts before her body was found in the Hudson River on July 31, 2017.
Donaldson, a prominent architect, was 49 when he jumped from the bridge, which connects upper Manhattan and New Jersey, on July 27, 2017. He left behind his wife and two young daughters.
Feldman and Donaldson were two of the five deaths that took place from the bridge during a five-week period in July and August 2017.
After the string of alarming suicides, Port Authority installed a temporary metal fence and netting system in September 2017 on the bridge.
In 2017 there were a total of 15 suicides from the bridge and cops made a total of 68 suicide saves from there, according to the New York Times.
In the lawsuits, Feldman and Donaldson’s families cited a 2012 ruling where a judge ruled that upstate Ithaca created ‘an unreasonably dangerous condition by failing to install safeguards’ on the Thurston Avenue Bridge.
The bridge was notorious as a place where Cornell University students committed suicide.
Despite the case, Bluth ruled that some bridges and other prominent areas should have anti-suicide measures, but it was not compulsory.
‘[A] pedestrian cannot create a dangerous condition by running across Park Avenue without the walk sign and hold the city liable, or jump in front of a subway train and hold the transit authority liable,’ she wrote.
‘The wrongful death action claimed here did not arise because of a dangerous condition on the bridge,’ she added in the Donaldson decision, ending their $40million suit. The Feldmans sued for $100million.
‘The cause of action rose out of Mr. Donaldson’s decision to jump off the bridge and commit suicide,’ Bluth said.
‘To hold otherwise would require property owners to assess the ways people might attempt to commit suicide on their property and implement preventative strategies or face potential liability…This Court will not impose that burden,’ she added.
The Feldmans and Donaldsons are yet to comment on the court decision.