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Metro Fights Crash Victims' Families In Court

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By David Schultz

Tawanda Brown's daughter died in the train crash last year, so she appreciates the memorial service Metro arranged for her and the other families.

But she says Metro hasn't been as deferential to their lawsuit seeking damages in civil court. "They've asked to dismiss this claim," Brown says. "So all of this [memorial service] looks good. It's in the forefront. We appreciate that. But this is not where it ends. It's just the beginning."

Metro is moving to dismiss the lawsuit by claiming sovereign immunity, a legal clause that prevents state and federal agencies from being sued.

Paul Figley, a professor at American University's Washington College of Law, says the purpose of soverign immunity is to protect them from crippling legal decisions. "If you're the plaintiff," he says, "sovereign immunity is never a good thing. But for the society as a whole, it may be."

Metro says its motion to dismiss is a routine step in a lawsuit like this, and it's working with the families to find a resolution.

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