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Metro reaches settlement with family of Carol Glover, who died in 2015 L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded in 2015 that smoke in a Metro tunnel near L'Enfant Plaza was caused by electrical arcing. (Video: Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

Metro has reached an out-of-court settlement with the family of Carol Glover, the 61-year-old woman who died in January 2015 after smoke filled a tunnel near the L’Enfant Plaza station.

According to recent court documents, U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan granted a request by Glover’s two adult sons to dismiss the lawsuit they filed against Metro more than three years ago. On Thursday, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel confirmed that the case was dismissed because Glover’s family agreed to a settlement offered by the transit agency.

The terms of that settlement and the amount of money offered to the family by Metro are sealed from the public as part of the final legal agreement struck between the agency and family. In their original court filing in January 2015, Glover’s sons had sought $50 million in damages from Metro.

In that filing, Glover’s family alleged that Metro had acted negligently in failing to repair and upgrade the infrastructure that caused the tunnel to fill with smoke in the first place and also for failing to quickly evacuate Glover and other passengers from the train.

“As a direct and proximate result of [Metro’s] negligence, Ms. Glover was trapped, helpless, in Train 302 for nearly forty-five minutes as it filled with smoke,” the Glovers’ attorneys wrote in that initial lawsuit. “During this time she fought, ever more agonizingly, to breathe as the smoke gradually sapped the life from her body.”

Marcus Glover, one of the sons who brought the lawsuit against Metro, did not return multiple requests for comment this week. Nor did the family’s attorney.

The fact that the Glover case has been settled out of court — along with the cases brought by dozens of other victims — suggests that Metro is trying in earnest to avoid a civil trial, which probably would bring up new details and firsthand testimonies from the people and first responders who experienced the disaster.

Metro seeks out-of-court settlements with L’Enfant Plaza smoke victims; more than 80 cases dismissed

Court documents posted this week show that of the more than 100 cases filed against Metro by victims, only 18 are still active. The rest have been dismissed by a judge — almost all of them by plaintiffs’ requests, which suggests that those, too, have been settled.

Carol Glover, a contractor at the U.S. Agriculture Department, was one of several hundred people on a Yellow Line train departing L’Enfant Plaza on the afternoon of Jan. 12, 2015. A few hundred feet outside the station, an electrical arcing incident caused the tunnel to fill with smoke and prevented the operator from moving the train. Miscommunication between Metro staff and D.C. firefighters delayed the process of rescuing riders from the tunnel. By the time firefighters boarded the train, passengers were huddled on the floor inside each car, crying, praying and struggling to breathe.

Glover, who lived in Alexandria, was later pronounced dead because of respiratory failure caused by smoke inhalation. She was the only person to die, although scores of other people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation or other smoke-related injuries.

“We want to make sure that something like this never happens again,” Marcus Glover said at the time the lawsuit was first filed. “Though we are devastated, we are not bitter. We’re here for justice so that everyone who rides the Metro has the confidence they can get where they’re going safely.”

May 2016 — NTSB: Metro has had a ‘severe learning disability’ when it comes to improving safety