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Companies accept responsibility in train crash

Several companies took rightful responsibility for their roles in a deadly 2009 train crash that claimed the lives of nine people. The admission of guilt brought to rest seven of nine wrongful death lawsuits stemming from the accident, which left many others injured.

The details of the settlement were not disclosed to the public. But based upon settlements in similar accidents, the total likely reached into millions of dollars.

The settlement came on the heels of Metro, the transit agency in charge of operating the train system, accepting responsibility for a crash that has been called the deadliest in the agency's history. Businesses that produced some of the equipment that malfunctioned just before the crash also accepted blame for their roles.

One of these companies is based in Maryland. The company was responsible for developing a warning system to help Metro officials track the trains. This system apparently did not work correctly, contributing to the events of the crash.

Two other companies from outside of the United States admitted to fault in the incident. Both companies produced equipment that is used in the train system.

No officials from either the companies or Metro were willing to speak about the recent development in the case. A spokesperson for Metro said the company was forbidden from discussing it because the case is ongoing.

After a thorough investigation, officials determined the crash was caused by malfunctioning equipment. One of the trains had stopped on the tracks, but the program did not alert supervisors to it. This allowed another train to collide with it. The National Transportation Safety Board also called into question Metro's attitude over safety, citing an unwillingness to correct reoccurring safety issues.

The last two remaining wrongful death cases will go to trial in March. With Metro accepting responsibility, the trial should not last long and will likely be decided in favor of the plaintiffs.

Source: The Washington Post, "DC transit agency Metro settles 7 wrongful death suits from 2009 train crash that killed 9," The Associated Press, Feb. 15, 2012

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