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Accident Victim Settles With Metro For $3.35 Million

The Washington Post

Monday, October 6, 1997

Alice Reid

Accident Victim Settles With Metro
For $3.35 Million

Mary Best, the woman who lost both legs last year when a Metro bus jumped the curb, crashed into a Georgia Avenue barbershop and pinned her in the wreckage, will get $3.35 million in a settlement with the transit agency, according to sources familiar with the settlement.

Best, 64, a Washington resident who worked in a day-care center before the April 1996 accident, had filed a $20 million lawsuit against Metro that would have come to trial early next year. The settlement was reached last month.

Best, who required months of treatment and painful therapy, must use a wheelchair to get around. She has resumed living on her own, with the occasional help of a home health aide, her attorney, Michael Morgenstern, said.

Best was hit by the bus after the driver — a trainee who was not wearing a seat belt even though she was being watched by a supervisor on board — lost control. The bus swerved into the building where Best was standing waiting for the bus, demolishing the building and pinning Best in the rubble. One of Best’s legs were severed in the accident, and doctors amputated her other leg as she lay under the bus in order to free her.

“She’s been remarkable,” Morgenstern said. “This was a traumatic double amputation….She has not looked back. Instead, she has looked forward from the beginning. She has not held any ill will against the bus company or the supervisor.”

The driver trainee was fired after the accident. The supervisor, who had an exemplary safety record as a Metrobus driver, Metro officials said at the time, is still with the transit agency.

Best declined through her attorney to speak directly with a reporter.

Metro spokeswoman Leon Agouridis, said the two sides had worked out a mutually agreeable settlement. “Metro is a public entity,” she said. “And when something like this happens, it has a responsibility to make fair payment.”

Both Agouridis and Morgenstern said that under the terms of the settlement they are limited in what they can say to local news organizations about the case.

“This was such a needless tragedy. Ms. Best hopes that Metro will never forget how simple safety practices can spare a family immeasurable heartache,” Morgenstern said.

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