Bus passengers who have been “stiffed” by drivers for rides as their bus pulled away before they could get on board got renewed hope that justice was indeed possible, after the Haifa Small Claims Court awarded an unlucky passenger NIS 1,200 ($380) because a bus operated by the Nativ Express company failed to stop for him.
The judgment against the company, including court costs, a fine, and the cost of a test on a lie-detector machine, was NIS 2,850, of which NIS 1,200 was awarded to the passenger, the court said.
The incident occurred on Feb. 18, when a resident of Tzfas was on his way to Bnei Brak. The 7:25 p.m. bus – which did not appear to be full – passed right by the passenger. As that was the only bus to Bnei Brak for the rest of the day, and as the passenger had no car, the passenger went back home. The next day, he filed an NIS 10,000 lawsuit in small claims court against the company.
The company denied that its driver had failed to stop for the passenger – and that he had not even been there in the first place. The passenger decided to file the lawsuit only because he had heard that others had successfully done so.
The court decided that the only way to get to the truth was to have the passenger take a polygraph test, which both sides would pay for. The bus company refused to pay its share, so the passenger was forced to pick up the expense himself.
The polygraph clearly showed that the passenger was telling the truth – and the court ruled that that, along with other evidence, convinced it to rule in his favor. In its decision, the court said that “citizens should be encouraged to file such lawsuits. This is the best way to improve the level of service among service providers. Clearly, a decision by the bus driver to skip a stop and force a passenger to return home is unacceptable.” Among the costs the company was required to pick up – the polygraph test cost.