Judge in Metro Red Line crash case issues gag order

A federal judge issued a gag order Thursday in the lawsuits involving Metro and its equipment makers from the deadly 2009 Red Line crash.

Judge Reggie B. Walton handed down the order just a few days after Metro and three equipment manufacturers — Alstom Signaling, Ansaldo STS USA and ARINC — filed documents saying they are liable in the crash that killed nine people and injured dozens near the Fort Totten station.

Metro has settled seven of the nine fatality cases, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs. Four of the cases, involving two people who were killed and two who were injured, are expected to go to trial in the coming weeks.

A pretrial conference is set for March 1.

In its final report on the June 22, 2009, accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said a malfunction of the automatic train control system was the direct cause of the crash.

The system did not detect the presence of a train and directed another to advance toward it at full speed. However, the NTSB said, chronic failures of track circuitry, a negligent safety attitude at Metro and weak oversight made the crash inevitable.

On Tuesday, Dan Stessel, Metro’s chief spokesman, would not discuss the liability issue or details of the settlements. He said the settlements would not affect the agency’s operating budget.

“We have insurance to resolve these kinds of matters and our deductible is already covered in a reserve,” he said.

Carolyn Jenkins, the mother of Veronica DuBose— a 29-year-old mother of two who was killed in the crash — said Tuesday she has settled with Metro and the equipment makers but was disappointed by the outcome.

She said the amount is confidential. “It was lower than I expected,” she said. “No money in the world could bring back my daughter. Her kids deserve to live a better life like their mother was trying to give them.”

Follow me on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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