For more than a year, The Washington Post has been seeking information from Metro about its settlement of lawsuits stemming from the crash.
Metro waited nearly a year to respond to a public-records request by The Post, and when it did, in February, it provided little information. Citing exemptions in its public-records policy and a gag order by the judge, the agency said it would not release information about the cases that had gone to litigation.
Metro did disclose that it had paid a total of $1.6 million to settle 84 claims that did not go to litigation. The 84 payouts, through Metro’s Office of Third Party Claims, ranged from $333 to $150,000.
The cases that have been litigated are likely to have resulted in much larger payouts and to provide a clearer picture on the crash’s financial impact on the transit agency and its insurers.
The Post submitted an administrative appeal to Metro in February, asking it to reverse its decision to withhold the information. The paper also filed a motion in federal court in the District seeking to have the judge unseal records that detail the settlement amounts. Metro has said it will not act on the administrative appeal by The Post until the federal judge in the lawsuits, Reggie B. Walton, acts on The Post’s motion. The motion has not yet been decided.
With the settlement of the lawsuits, one difficult aspect of the crash’s aftermath has apparently concluded. But some of the crash’s survivors struggle with physical and emotional problems, according to lawyers and family members. Others fear using public transportation and worry that Metro hasn’t done enough to improve its safety.
Elizabeth Regan, 39, whose parents, Maj. Gen. David F. Wherley Jr. and his wife, Ann, of the District, were killed in the crash, said she has gone from being angry to being disappointed at Metro.
“In the first year, there was a lot of talk from [Metro’s] new executives about making change and doing the right thing,” she said. “That doesn’t seem to be true. . . . It is just disappointing that a loss of lives didn’t lead to change.”
Carolyn Jenkins of Culpeper, whose daughter Veronica DuBose was killed in the crash, said her daughter’s two young children are trying to make it without their mother.
“It is still very hard to deal with,” she said.
Jenkins has helped organize a candlelight vigil that will be held Saturday near the crash site. She said a non-disclosure agreement prohibits her from discussing how much Metro paid to settle the family’s lawsuit, but she characterized the amount as “very fair.”