More Details of Deadly Metro Crash Face Release

     WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge ordered the unsealing of numerous files concerning the deadly 2009 Metro train crash that killed nine in Washington, D.C.
     The order comes after the Washington Post moved to intervene in the case to pursue coverage of the June 22, 2009, collision between two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority trains near the Fort Totten Metro Station.
     “The Post has provided extensive press coverage of the Fort Totten Metrorail collision,” U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton wrote last week. “It asserts, however, that the Court’s sealing of the foregoing documents has hindered its ability ‘ to report fully on the collision and the subsequent legal proceedings.”
     The documents at issue concern settlement agreements involving minors, confidential mediations, and medical and other sensitive information about plaintiffs that filed suit against the Transit Authority.
     Of particular interest is how much money taxpayers are shelling out for settlements.
     Judge Walton agreed with the paper’s First Amendment arguments, ordering the release of settlement agreements involving minors, with some information – names and birthdates – redacted. The newspaper can also review mediations involving both plaintiff Tawanda Brown and just the WMATA, but Walton refused to unseal information involving sensitive records and medical information.
     “Because neither a common law nor First Amendment right of access attaches to [such records], these filings will remain sealed,” the 23-page opinion states.
     Judge Walton stayed his order for two weeks to give Metro a chance to appeal.
     The 2009 crash between two trains occurred between the Fort Totten and Takoma stations at the start of a Monday afternoon rush hour. Eight passengers and a train operator died in the crash, which injured close to 80 others, making it the deadliest crash in Metro history.
     The crash prompted numerous lawsuits against WMATA filed in both U.S. District Court and Superior Court.

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