- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2015

A passenger on the Metro train that stopped and filled with smoke at the L’Enfant Plaza station said Thursday he plans to file a lawsuit claiming negligence on the behalf of the transit agency.

Monday’s incident led to the death of one woman and hospitalization of more than 80 others as passengers and a lawyer representing the man filing the first lawsuit in the case said the number of plaintiffs is likely to climb.

Attorney Kim Brooks Rodney said she has been retained by one additional client in the Metro case and has meetings scheduled over the next several days with at least 20 others who were passengers on the train.

She described the nature of the lawsuit Thursday, saying it will allege negligent maintenance, negligent inspection and negligent response to an emergency situation on the behalf of Metro.

“If there was some sort of safety protocol in place for the evacuation of subway tunnels Monday, it was not implemented correctly,” Ms. Rodney said.

No other parties, including the city’s fire department, will be named as defendants.

One of the two clients in the lawsuit, 53-year-old Malbert Rich, on Thursday described sending what he thought might be a final text message to his children and his mother telling them he loved them as his train car filled with smoke.

“It was sort of surreal,” he said. “I told my mother that I loved being her son and I told my children that I loved being their dad.”

Ms. Rodney, who previously worked as general council to Metro, also represented families who lost two loved ones in the 2009 Metro crash on the Red line that killed nine people.

Ms. Rodney declined to disclose the nature of the settlement in that case and also declined to say what if any damages her clients might seek in this latest case.

“The goal of this lawsuit is to improve the subway system in the D.C. area,” she said.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed Friday in D.C. Superior Court.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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