An attorney’s family filed a wrongful death suit against WMATA, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, asking for $25M plus interest and costs. Second only to Remi Walden’s story, this is one of the saddest I’ve covered.
According to the lawsuit, on October 19, 2013 Okiemute C. Whiteru, a 35-year old attorney, was traveling up an escalator at the Judiciary Square Metro Station “when he lost his balance and fell from the escalator a short distance; onto the subway platform; while attempting to collect himself, the Plaintiff’s Decedent fell backwards, and dropped a distance of eight feet, resulting in incapacitating injuries.”
The sad story told in the court papers continues, “Unfortunately, as of this time, Plaintiffs’ Decedent had succumbed to his injuries and died a tragic, painful and untimely death.”
First, no one should have to die injured and alone. If, as the family claims, Mr. Whiteru’s fall was seen by WMATA’s “agents, servants and/or employees,” as well as recorded by surveillance cameras, yet no one investigated, it is one of the cruelest cases of negligence I’ve seen of late.
The counts listed in the suit include premises liability, negligence, a survival action and a wrongful death action. Mr. Whiteru’s parents allege WMATA behaved negligently by failing to “timely and appropriately recognize, investigate and otherwise respond” to his fall.
I cannot imagine what Mr. Whiteru’s last moments were like, nor do I doubt for a moment that his parents constantly wonder at that, too. Nothing will bring back Mr. Whiteru to a productive life as an attorney, nor will $25M ease his family’s pain at losing him in such a gruesome manner. Nevertheless, I hope the Whiterus prevail against WMATA.
If nothing else, their victory would serve as a wake up call to WMATA. So often these days, companies and employees have a cavalier attitude toward their responsibilities to customers. I can (after much grumbling) forgive not getting dipping sauces for my chicken nuggets at a drive-thru. It’s another thing entirely to ask me to forgive what WMATA allowed to happen to Mr. Whiteru.
Requiescat in pace, Mr. Whiteru. You deserved better.