First on WTOP: Metro may sue DC over deadly Yellow Line smoke incident

WASHINGTON — Metro could sue D.C. over the response to the deadly smoke incident in the Yellow Line tunnel near L’Enfant Plaza last year.

In a court document, Metro asks a judge for permission “to file cross-claims and/or a third-party claim against the District” in the next 30 days. The document, obtained by WTOP, was filed Thursday in connection with the series of lawsuits filed by passengers who were on the train or in the station during the incident.

D.C. Office of the Attorney General spokesman Andrew Phifer said in an email that he could not comment on any potential cross-claims from Metro, but said it is not uncommon in cases where lawsuits are filed against multiple, separate defendants.

“Typically, the defendants asserting these cross-claims deny that they caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injury, but also assert that if they are found to have caused injury to the plaintiff, the co-defendant(s) should bear some (or all) of that liability because the co-defendant’s actions caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s injuries,” Phifer said.

A status report in the case and Phifer said the District plans to soon ask a judge to dismiss all complaints from passengers against the D.C. government based on immunity the city can claim for workers performing public duties or key functions.

Lawsuits filed by those injured in the incident, as well as the family of Carol Glover who died in the January 2015 incident, accuse the D.C. Fire and EMS Department of negligence due to the failure to provide prompt rescue services and medical treatment tied in part to major communication failures and delays. In one instance, a D.C. Fire battalion chief rolled up a window on a Metro Transit Police officer. Transit police were also rebuffed in efforts to offer to use their radios to resolve communications issues in the tunnel.

Glover’s family, in its $50 million suit against both Metro and the District, also accuses the District of failing to properly train first responders. The District was only added as a defendant in a number of the cases on Oct. 19.

There are a series of other accusations against Metro. Metro did not respond to requests for comment.

The case has been on hold several times since the incident while awaiting the final findings from the National Transportation Safety Board.

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