Remember how Metro buses have that nasty little habit of killing pedestrians who have the walk signal? Well, here come the lawsuits. The family of Sally Dean McGhee is looking for a cool twenty million. McGhee was run over on Valentine's Day on 7th and Penn. Her coworker, Martha Schoenborn, was also killed in the crash. Her husband is looking for $100,000,000.00 (a little less than one sixth of a baseball stadium). I don't know why Schoenborn is worth five times as much as McGhee. I imagine there's a lot of guesstimating when dealing with pain and suffering. Emily S. Fenichel, who was killed on June 8, 2006 in Friendship heights, also has a widowed husband suing the city. The Washington Times article I'm referencing doesn't mention how much money he is looking for.
It's obvious to me that these families deserve a sizable chunk of change. These victims weren't jaywalkers. They were simply walking down the street when they had the signal. They were killed by gross negligence. Metro should be paying out of its ears.
Unfortunately that may not happen.
In a response to one of the lawsuits, Metro attorneys said "some or all of the claims may be barred" under the legislation creating Metro. The response did not specify which claims might be considered barred.
A rudimentary Google check came up with this from Jones v. WMATA decided on March 17, 2000 by the U.S. DC Circuit Court of Appeals:
Under the Eleventh Amendment, " 'an unconsenting State is immune from suits brought in federal courts by her own citizens as well as by citizens of another State.' " Morris v. WMATA , 781 F.2d 218, 222-23 (D.C. Cir. 1986) (quoting Edelman v. Jordan , 415 U.S. 651, 662-63 (1974)). "Moreover, though the immunity is that of the state, 'some agencies exercising state power have been permitted to invoke the Amendment in order to protect the state treasury from liability that would have had essentially the same practical consequences as a judgment against the State itself.' " Id . at 223 (quoting Lake Country Estates v. Tahoe Regional Plan- ning Agency , 440 U.S. 391, 400-01 (1979)). WMATA was created by a compact enacted by the Congress and to which the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland and the District cf Columbia are signatories. We have consistently recognized that in signing the WMATA Compact, Virginia and Maryland each conferred its immunity upon WMATA, which therefore enjoys, to the same extent as each state, immunity from suit in federal court based on its performance of governmental functions. 4 See, e.g. , Morris v. WMATA.
That's right. You can't sue Metro because its signatories, MD, VA, and DC, are exempt from federal lawsuits. This is some crazy shit. Three people lost and their loved ones are going to get zilch? Sovereign immunity, my ass. This is a disgrace.