The family of the woman who died when the Metro train car she was trapped in filled with smoke filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the transit agency on Friday.
The two sons of 61-year-old Carol Glover filed the lawsuit alleging that negligence on behalf of Metro, including failure to inspect and maintain equipment and to provide an adequate emergency response to the Jan. 12 incident, contributed to her death.
“As a direct and proximate result of Defendant WMATA’s negligence, Ms. Glover was trapped, helpless, in Train 302 for nearly forty-five minutes as it filled with smoke; during this time she fought, ever more agonizingly, to breathe as the smoke gradually sapped the life from her body,” states the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The Alexandria woman died from smoke inhalation and more than 80 people were taken to hospitals for treatment after a train stopped inside a smoke-filled tunnel near the L’Enfant Plaza metro station.
Passengers reported being stuck inside the train for approximately 40 minutes — they were directed to remain inside the train by the operator — before first responders reached them.
At least one other lawsuit alleging negligence on behalf of Metro has been filed by another passenger on the train. The attorney representing that man, 53-year-old Malbert Rich, said she has been retained by more than 60 people also considering lawsuits.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the smoke incident, which is said to have originated from an electrical arcing that involved the train’s high-voltage third rail.
In the weeks since the deadly incident, both Metro and D.C. officials have offered preliminary accounts of the ordeal and the emergency response. D.C. officials said responding firefighters were not told passengers were trapped inside the train until they arrived on the scene and that once there, they were unable to communicate inside the train tunnel because of radio communications issues involving Metro’s radio equipment.
Metro has blamed D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services for failure to notify the transit agency that the department encrypted its radios, saying they were working to fix the problem in the days ahead of the incident.
Metro officials also announced last week a plan of 10 “safety actions” being implemented over the few months in reaction to the smoke incident.
The steps include repairs on the high-voltage third rails, which power the trains, and new employee protocol that will direct operators to cut off a train’s air-intake system in the event of smoke.