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Metro To Pay $3.35 Million

Legal Times

Week of September 29, 1997

Metro To Pay $3.35 Million

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) earlier this month agreed to pay a $3.35 million settlement — one of its largest ever — to Mary Best, a 64-year old District woman whose legs were crushed by an out-of-control Metrobus in April 1995. The settlement came after 17 months of pretrial wrangling in D.C. Superior Court — and with the help of a special, nonbinding mediation led by Superior Court Judge Nan Shuker. Best feels “a great sense of relief that she can get on with her life,” says her lawyer, Michael Morgenstern, of Rockville’s Michael Morgenstern & Associates. The settlement was signed Sept. 2. Best, who was waiting at a bus stop on Georgia Avenue, N.W., was struck by a bus when its trainee driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, slid off her seat after making a left turn and lost control of the vehicle. Although both the trainee and her instructor were sued along with WMATA, Metro assumed their liability in the settlement. “This was a very unfortunate accident,” says WMATA spokeswoman Leona Agouridas. “Whenever an accident like this happens, public entities such as WMATA have a responsibility to make a fair payment.” Agouridas confirms that the Best settlement is one of the two largest WMATA has ever had to pay. She declines to comment, however, on what kind of dent the payout puts in WMATA’s overall settlement budget.

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