Are Metro Officials Protecting Negligent Employees?

By Peter DePaolis

smoke from accidentLast year, a smoke incident in L’Enfant Plaza killed one passenger and caused dozens of injuries on a D.C. Metro train. As it turns out, a senior mechanic failed to inspect a tunnel fan and falsified the inspection report. Later, he lied about it to investigators. Metro officials fired the mechanic. However, now the transit agency is considering re-hiring the mechanic despite the tragic incident. This may make you wonder “Are D.C. Metro Officials Protecting Negligent Employees?”

Just last week, a train operator left a train sitting on the platform, blocking other services, declaring his shift had ended. There was also another incident when a dispute about a train operator’s lunch break almost lead to a head-on collision with another train. Given these recent incidents, some media outlets are accusing Metro officials of protecting negligent employees.

Does the D.C. Metro Have a “Relaxed Safety Culture?” or Protecting Negligent Employees?

According to an internal safety report by the D.C. Metro, work crews are not properly trained, tunnels are left with debris (which affects the power that runs through the rails and can cause structural damage) and insulation cleaning schedules are not complied with. While the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) admitted it lacks “formally trained and experienced cable inspection crews,” it does not address what many have called its “relaxed safety culture” within the agency.

The union for D.C.’s Metrorail insists that rather than cultivating an environment where Metro workers feel encouraged to identify potential hazards that could prevent subway accidents, the WMATA has “woefully neglected its commitment to a safety culture.”

Whether the Metrorail is operated by negligent employees or the WMATA fosters a relaxed safety culture, something needs to be done to correct careless behaviors that can endanger other workers or passengers. These Metro safety surges may be able to fix any mechanical malfunctions in the rail lines, but they will do little in the long run to correct operator error caused by a lack of training or willfully negligent behavior.

Speak With A D.C. WMATA Lawyer

The Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP fight to protect the rights of those injured in transportation accidents. We also have offices in Greenbelt, Maryland and Fairfax, Virginia, contact us today so we can discuss your case.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.