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Metro accident set to cost millions in liability

Smoke fills the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. (Photo: Lesley Lopez)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – Area law firms are gearing up for a flood of calls following Monday’s Metro crisis. And the claims that could be filed have the potential to cost Metro—which is funded with tax dollars—millions.

The accident was only two days ago and 7 On Your Side has learned that some of the passengers have already contacted lawyers.

Two-hundred people were on the train. Eighty-four received medical care. One died. What happened Monday evening on the Metro was truly a tragedy.

Joe Musso’s law firm has already received half-a-dozen calls from passengers.

“Some of the people that are calling us sound incredibly broken up,” he said.

And the callers are not limited to just those who were treated for physical wounds.

“People who believed for 40 minutes that they were never going to see their loved ones again and that they were going to die can have emotional injuries that will last a lifetime, let alone a few weeks,” explained Musso.

According to Metro’s financial reports, obtained by 7 On Your Side, in 2014 the transit system paid out $34 million for “Casualty and Liability Costs.” That number in 2013 was $33.8 million and $30.1 million in 2012—roughly $100 million in the last three years.

Kim Brooks-Rodney works for another private law firm that’s received four calls from victims. But she’s also a former attorney for Metro.

“It has to be investigated. We have to figure out, if I’m with Metro, what went wrong,” she said.

She says if negligent maintenance is found to be at fault, then Metro will be held accountable. But that’s only half the liability story. The 40-minute response, which Brooks-Rodney calls pitiful, will also come into question.

“The passengers on these six trains, they have legitimate claims. They paid a fare. They expected a safe ride and they didn’t get it,” stated Brooks-Rodney.

Rodney said Metro gets thousands of claims every year for liability. Some are legitimate. Some are not. Metro was not willing to comment for this story.

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Follow 7 On Your Side Investigative Reporter Chris Papst on Twitter: @ChrisPapst.

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