Metro Admits Liability for June 22, 2009 Wreck

I’m glad to see that after over 2 1/2 years Metro has finally done the right thing and admitted liability for the June 22, 2009 wreck — even if it was for legal expediency.

It is unclear to me why Ansaldo, ARINC, and Alstom share legal responsibility for the wreck.  I imagine that any company with deep pockets that was even remotely connected to the wreck was named in the lawsuits, but all of the publicly available information as well as what I am aware of as someone who was an Automatic Train Control (ATC) tech at the time indicates that Metro was almost entirely at fault.

As horrific as the June 22 wreck was, I’m concerned that it may be overshadowing the multiple other accidents in which only Metro employees were killed.

I’d like to know why the NTSB hasn’t released a report yet regarding the January 26, 2010, accident that killed two of my former Metro coworkers in ATC — Jeff Garrard and Sung Oh.
It is apparently common for NTSB accident reports to not be released for months after an accident, up to a year in some cases, but Mr. Garrard and Mr. Oh were killed over two (2) years ago.
Where is the coverage of the accident that killed them?
They were run over by a “hi-rail” truck that was being operated in reverse. Metro specifies that their hi-rail trucks shall have _no_ backup alarm while on the rails (the alarm is only operational when the truck is off the rails). I have yet to hear an explanation for this. Had Metro instructed the truck equipment mfr to make the alarm operational at all times, Mr. Garrard and Mr. Oh would almost certainly be alive today.
The lack of a backup alarm is only one of several issues that led to their deaths, but it is one of the most concrete and hard to refute.
Will WMATA own up to their gross negligence and liability in that accident as well?  Will the families and/or widows of the deceased Metro employees receive multi-million dollar settlements?  The answer is no.
Many people do not realize that if a worker who is covered by Worker’s Compensation (WC) insurance is killed on the job — even if it is due to gross negligence and/or recklessness on the part of their employer — their family/estate cannot sue the employer! Carrying WC insurance protects employers from lawsuits — all injuries and deaths become essentially ‘no fault’ events. If a worker is injured due to their own carelessness, WC can be beneficial — but if they are killed on the job, their family will likely receive less from WC than a person who breaks their arm on Metro property will receive in a typical lawsuit.
The families or estates of those killed in the June 22, 2009, wreck received millions of dollars, which is as it should be, but the families of Metro employees who are killed (like the train operator in the June 22 wreck, Jeanice McMillan) will be lucky to receive two (2) years worth of WC benefits, which often add up to less than $100k — then they’re on their own.  “Sorry about your dead husband/wife/son/daughter…Buh, bye now!”
Remember — by accepting employment with an employer who carries WC insurance (almost all do) you are forfeiting your right (or your family’s right) to sue if you are injured or killed on the job — even if your employer was clearly at fault.

Let’s hope that Metro admitting liability for the June 22 wreck is an indicator of how they will handle the multiple accidents in which employees were killed.  Basic fairness requires that Metro should pay the same amount regardless of whether the person the Authority killed is a passenger or employee.

This entry was posted in Inadequate Training, Malfunctions, Management Follies, Public Opinion, Safety Incidents, The Metro Hall of Shame and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s