(Reuters) – The family of the woman who died in a Washington D.C. subway train after smoke filled a tunnel and two rail cars filed a $50 million lawsuit against the city’s subway system on Friday.
Marcus and Anthony Glover, sons of late Carol Glover, filed the suit in federal court in the nation’s capitol, alleging the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority failed to take proper precautions to prevent the incident or respond quickly enough afterward.
“As a direct and proximate result of defendant WMATA’s negligence, Ms. Glover was trapped, helpless […] for nearly 45 minutes as it filled with smoke; during this time she fought, ever more agonizingly, to breathe as the smoke gradually sapped the life from her body,” the complaint said.
A WMATA spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit, citing the ongoing nature of the litigation.
The Jan. 12 accident occurred in a tunnel near the L’Enfant Plaza station. Federal investigators blamed the smoke on electrical arcing from the charged third rail. More than 80 people were overcome by smoke. Only Glover died.
Earlier, at least one rider filed a separate suit against the transit agency. His attorney said the case aimed to determine the cause of the accident and evaluate the emergency response.
The acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Christopher Hart, said last week that irregularities were found in the ventilation system of Washington’s subway after the incident.
Congress members whose home districts are serviced by the Washington area’s transit system, known as Metrorail, have said ventilation fans apparently drew smoke into rail cars, where passengers suffered smoke inhalation.
The safety board is also examining reports of confused radio communications between firefighters and transit dispatchers that might have slowed the emergency response, Hart said.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Richard Borsuk)