NEWARK -- Gov. Chris Christie's former press secretary has been dropped from a civil lawsuit stemming from the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

Michael Drewniak was removed as a defendant this week.

The litigation is a combination of two lawsuits filed in January 2014 by individuals and businesses in Fort Lee, the town next to the bridge that was engulfed in gridlock for four days in September 2013.

Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, one of his appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted this month in a federal trial where prosecutors contended they closed access lanes to the Port Authority bridge to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie, a Republican.

Christie isn't a defendant in the lawsuit, which names his re-election organization, the state of New Jersey and the Port Authority along with Kelly, Baroni and former Port Authority official David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty.

Drewniak, currently an official with New Jersey Transit, testified during the trial he believed Wildstein's story that the gridlock was related to a study on traffic flow at the bridge.

The original lawsuit was dismissed last year, but a judge allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint. In September, the judge dismissed some counts but let others go forward, including deprivation of constitutional rights, official misconduct and failure to prevent a civil conspiracy.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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