NCTD contractor to pay $10K to woman slammed to ground by conductor

REGION — A woman who was thrown to the ground by a conductor will receive a $10,000 settlement, the NCTD (North County Transit District) board agreed last week.

In a complaint filed with NCTD, Encinitas resident Colinesha Sutton stated that an ID scanner didn’t recognize her coaster pass during the afternoon of last Aug. 6. Paul Burshteyn, the train’s assistant conductor, told Sutton the fare was invalid, she said.

Sutton asked if the pass could be verified at the next stop, but Burshteyn said she would need to get off immediately, according to her account.

When the train came to a halt at Carlsbad’s Poinsettia Station, Burshteyn tossed a shopping cart with her belongings onto the platform, she added.

From there, the dispute turned physical, train surveillance video shows.

Burshteyn, another NCTD employee and a passenger pushed Sutton off the train. Then, the passenger threw Sutton to the ground. She got up and knocked into the passenger.

Then, Burshteyn grabbed Sutton and slammed her to the ground.

“He then got on top of me and handcuffed me,” Sutton said.

Carlsbad police officers then arrived and examined Sutton.

As a result of the altercation, Sutton said she has a scar on her shoulder, suffered abdominal pain and had a bruised finger. She also claimed jewelry in the cart is now lost and her purse was damaged.

Burshteyn’s version of the incident is also included in the complaint documents. Because Sutton’s pass wouldn’t scan, Burshteyn said asked Sutton how much she paid for it to determine if the fare was valid, he said.

Sutton declined to say, and Burshteyn then asked to see her ID, he said. When she failed to cooperate, Sutton became combative and he ordered her to disembark. She refused to leave, Burshteyn added.

Once on the platform, she kept “fighting” and tried to get back on the train, he said.

“I made a decision to detain her and allow the train to proceed,” Burshetyn said.

Frances Schnall, NCTD marketing representative and interim public information officer, said conductors are responsible for verifying fare. If a passenger does not have a valid pass, conductors are supposed to educate customers where and how they can obtain fare.

Further, a conductor’s role is to keep track of passengers without valid passes and report that information to a security team.

“NCTD acknowledges that this unfortunate event occurred and we are disappointed that it happened,” Schnall said in an earlier statement. “We expressed our sincere apology to the customer involved in the incident.”

Burshteyn was a contract employee, according to Schnall. His former employer, Transit America Services, Inc., will pay the $10,000 settlement. He is no longer working with NCTD, Schnall noted.

“We have legally settled this matter without incurring any financial impact to taxpayers,” she said.

 

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