Glover Family Reaches Settlement with Metro, Judge Dismisses Case
Carol Glover, a 61-year-old passenger of the transit company Metro, passed away in January 2015 after deathly smoke filled a tunnel. She was a mother of two adult children and grandmother of three. Glover a graduate of Eastern High School in D.C. and of Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Her sons subsequently filed a lawsuit the same year as their mother’s death alleging that the company had acted negligently in failing to repair and upgrade the infrastructure that caused the incident. They also claimed that Metro failed to quickly evacuate the passengers from the train. The company and Glover’s family has now reached an out-of-court settlement.
After the settlement was agreed to, Glover’s two sons filed a motion to dismiss the case against Metro. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan, nominated to her position by former President Barack Obama, granted their request.
The day of the tragedy, the Metro train stopped approximately 800 feet beyond the platform due to electrical arcing from the high-voltage third rail1,000 feet beyond the train. Passengers said they were ordered by crew members to stay abroad the rail car. However, after believing that staying put would mean they would lose their lives, some chose to take matters into their own hands and evacuated on their own. Glover followed orders.
“As a direct and proximate result of [Metro’s] negligence, Ms. Glover was trapped, helpless, in Train 302 for nearly forty-five minutes as it filled with smoke,” the Glovers’ attorneys wrote in the filing. “During this time, she fought, ever more agonizingly, to breathe as the smoke gradually sapped the life from her body.”
Many of the public transit passengers who survived were badly sickened by the smoke – more than 80 – and dozens of lawsuits were filed against Metro after the tragedy. Sixteen of these remain outstanding. 25 were voluntarily dismissed after settlement terms had been reached last year. The company has been attempting to settle the others outside of court.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued a statement in 2016 saying the problems leading to the fatality were caused by senior management’s failure to proactively deal with “foreseeable safety risks.” Federal investigators blamed the incident on poor maintenance and less than ideal inspection practices. In short, this is something they believed could have been avoided had the company been following protocol as advised.
Metro is giving its best shot at avoiding a civil trial and keeping the remaining cases out of court. Going to trial would mean having passengers and witnesses (first as emergency responders) offer first-hand testimony that would be especially detrimental and could have substantial long-term repercussions for the company. In 2009, a Metro system crash killed nine people and left many questioning the transit’s safety. The company does not want to have its reputation further marred by letting lawsuits proceed to trial.
The specific settlement terms and funds to be received by the Glover family are sealed from the public view, and the case’s closure offers little solace for the woman’s death. In their original filing, the sons had asked for $50 million in damages.