87 passengers suing DC Metro for smoke injuries

87 passengers suing DC Metro for smoke injuries
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More than 80 passengers are suing the Washington, D.C. Metrorail subway system for injuries they say they sustained from being trapped on a smoke-filled train last January, the Associated Press reports

The passengers were traveling on a train on the D.C. Metro's Yellow line that was became was heading toward Northern Virginia on Jan. 12, 2015 when an electrical issue halted its progress, trapping passengers underground in smoke-filled cars.

Attorneys for the passengers said Tuesday they are filing individual lawsuits on behalf of people have suffered from smoke inhalation due to the incident, according to the report. 

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The 2015 smoke incident resulted in Metro’s first passenger fatality since a high-profile crash on the Red Line in 2009 that killed nine people and led to widespread changes at the capital-area transit agency.

Metro and Washington, D.C. officials have been criticized for allowing such a long gap before emergency responders could reach passengers who were stuck on the smoke-filled train. 

The Federal Transit Administration has taken over safety oversight for the capital area subway system, which is the second busiest transit network in the nation. The decision made the D.C. Metro the first system in the nation to be placed under federal control. 

The agency has said it has made improvements to its safety procedures since the 2015 smoke incident. 

"Since that terrible day, Metro has taken a number of important steps to ensure the safety of customers and employees," new Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefield said in a letter that was printed in a full-page newspaper ad on the anniversary of the 2015 incident. 

"First, coordination has improved with emergency responders, including a new fire department liaison stationed in Metro's rail operations control center. Fire department representatives have proven to be a valuable resource in linking Metro and emergency responders," Wiedefield continued. "We have also stepped up the training that Metro provides to emergency responders in every part of the region." 

The lawsuits allege that Metro did not properly share details about containments they were exposed to by the smoke that engulfed the train they were, according to the report. 

The Hill is checking with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for a response to the lawsuits.