Washington DC: Appeals court revives lawsuit by family of lawyer who died in Metro station and wasn’t found for 4 days

A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit against Metro by the family of a 35-year-old D.C. lawyer who fell to his death from a parapet at a subway station in downtown Washington in October 2013, allowing relatives of Okiemute C. Whiteru to seek damages at trial.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal from 2020 of the Whiteru family’s case on the grounds of error. The earlier decision by then-U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson — later elevated to the appeals court and now on President Biden’s shortlist for a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy — relied on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s argument that Whiteru was intoxicated and contributed to his own death, clearing it of any liability.


Under D.C. law, Metro and other “common carriers” have a duty to take reasonable steps to render aid to a passenger if it knows or has reason to know that they are injured, regardless of whether they contributed to their own injury, the appeals court ruled, agreeing with the Whiteru family.

Video footage showed the lawyer falling over a low concrete parapet at the back of the platform at the Judiciary Square station about 1:15 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2013, landing in a trench-like pit eight feet below. He suffered severe injuries and fractured at least one vertebra, but he was still alive after his fall. The parties agreed he would have survived the accident had he been discovered by 1:30 a.m. by station personnel making one of several scheduled inspections that night. Instead, his body was discovered by a commuter four days later.

Source:  https://www.democraticunderground.com/10447068