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Lopez v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

United States District Court, D. Maryland

November 29, 2016

MARY JESSENIA LOPEZ Plaintiff,
v.
WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WILLIAM CONNELLY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Mary Jessenia Lopez (“Plaintiff” or “Ms. Lopez”) brought this action against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“Defendant” or “WMATA”) alleging negligence and seeking $30, 000.00 in damages. The parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge for all further proceedings in the case and the entry of a final judgment. This case was thereafter referred to the undersigned. See ECF No. 10. Pending before the court and ready for resolution is WMATA's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 15). Ms. Lopez filed an Opposition (ECF No. 18) and WMATA filed a Reply (ECF No. 19). No hearing is deemed necessary and the court now rules pursuant to Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).

         BACKGROUND[1]

         On the morning of November 13, 2012, about 6:00 a.m., Ms. Lopez stood at a bus stop on Merrimac Drive in Hyattsville, Maryland, awaiting the arrival of the K6 Metro Bus. It was raining lightly or, as Ms. Lopez describes, “a little bit.” She was the only individual at the bus stop. Ms. Lopez took the K6 Metro Bus routinely. The only item she carried was a lunch bag. She wore tennis shoes. During her July 19, 2016 deposition, in response to questions by WMATA's counsel, Ms. Lopez described the sequence of events.

Q Just from the time you got to the doors until the time you paid your fare, was there anything unusual about the way you boarded the bus that day?
A No. I paid my fare that day and once I paid [the bus driver] took off hard, bruskly, and I went backwards.
Q Where was your - when you boarded the bus were there any seats available?
A Yes, there were.
Q Where was your intended seat?
A I just got off - I just got on and I fell, I hadn't take[n] a seat yet. After I fell I took a seat.
Q How far back had you made it before you fell?
A How much? What do you mean?
Q How far behind the driver were you when you fell?
A For three steps in front.
Q Three steps behind the driver?
A Um-hum, three steps when I fell and I couldn't stop myself.
Q Were you holding on to anything as you walked back?
A No, because I hadn't yet reached the part where they - there is to hold on to.
Q Is it the same three steps behind the driver when the bus started moving?
A No, the bus started moving when I entered. I took three steps and then fell. She was going like this, fast.
Q Had you paid your fare when the bus started moving?
A Yes, I just paid and all of a sudden she took off, there was no time.
Q Had you taken any steps between the time you paid and the time when the bus started moving?
A I paid, I paid. I started walking and she took off, she didn't give me time to walk.
Q Was the floor of the bus wet?
A Yes.
Q Could you see that the floor of the bus was wet when you boarded the bus?
A No, I didn't realize because when I got in all of a sudden I didn't ...

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