87 lawsuits filed against Metro over smoke incident

WASHINGTON – Attorneys representing Metro passengers who were stuck on a smoke-filled train have filed 87 lawsuits against the transit agency.

“Metro has got to do better,” said attorney Jerry Spitz. “It’s unacceptable.”

The law firms Cohen & Cohen plus Ashcraft & Gerel filed the lawsuits Tuesday, one year after the incident near L’Enfant Plaza. Electrical smoke overcame a stranded train, leaving one person dead and dozens needing medical attention.

“Can this accident happen again a year later? We still don’t know,” said attorney Kim Brooks-Rodney.

The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating what happened.

“We all thought that we was going to die,” recounted passenger Dennean Baker as she wiped tears from her face with a tissue. “I start to cry because of my memories of the horrible time I was on the train.”

According to the lawsuits, many of the passengers developed illnesses ranging from asthma to post traumatic stress disorder. Metro also has not said exactly what was in the smoke, leaving riders wondering what they were inhaling and how dangerous it was.

“It is our hope that the lawsuits we’re filing today make Metro safer,” said Spitz.

The lawsuits do not seek a specific amount of money in damages. The attorneys said that decision would ultimately be left to jurors.

The family of Carol Glover, the lone passenger who did not survive the invading smoke, has already sued Metro.

Riders were trapped inside the smoke-filled Yellow Line train for at least 35 minutes before help finally started to arrive. Some passengers fled the train on their own to escape the choking, acrid smoke.

The rescue was hindered by communication problems and ventilation fans that were turned on to help the smoke dissipate actually pushed the smoke toward the train.

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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