MARTA settles for $17M with widow of engineer killed on train tracks

Category: Train Accidents

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On Thursday, MARTA settled with the widow of an engineer killed on MARTA tracks in June 2018.

Rob Smith, 38, was killed when a MARTA train struck a truck on the tracks near the Medical Center station. Smith was working to install cell service when the truck ran into him. He died from his injuries.

According to the Champion Firm, which represented Michelle Smith – the wife of the man killed – MARTA and its insurance company will be on the hook for the $17 million settlement.

“It’s a sense of relief. It’s a sense of closure. It’s a sense of that she did get a full measure of justice for her husband’s death,” said Darl Champion, one of the attorney’s who represented Smith.

Smith’s surviving wife, Michelle, hired Darl Champion of The Champion Firm, P.C., and co-counsel Rudjard Hayes of Sanchez Hayes & Associates, shortly after her husband’s death.

Smith declined an interview request.

A MARTA spokesperson told CBS46 it is not commenting on the settlement.

“I think they [MARTA] saw the writing on the wall that the case was not going well for them,” said Champion. “They [MARTA] had tried a number of defenses throughout the case, none of which had been successful.”

Champion provided CBS46 News with the surveillance video of the incident, released to them after a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

“You had multiple different failures by three separate people come together to cause this,” said Champion.

He pointed to errors on board made by the conductor as well as two flaggers along the tracks who failed to divert the train around the construction zone.

“This story didn’t begin on June 3, 2018 when Rob died. It began much earlier than that when MARTA failed to have the proper protocols and procedures in place for training and supervising their employees,” said Champion.

Champion said the pattern of safety failures was a part of the lawsuit against MARTA.

Champion said he believed that MARTA was feeling pressure of a looming trial, influencing their decision to settle.

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