Regan Zambri Long

On January 12, 2015,
 an ordinary afternoon commute became a scene of tragedy, when a Pentagon-bound train stalled after encountering heavy smoke on the tunnel tracks just south of Metro’s L’Enfant Plaza station. By the time responders arrived, more than 70 passengers required hospitalization and a 61-year-old woman, Carol Glover, had died from smoke inhalation. 

In the months that followed, details emerged about the chain of events leading up to this catastrophe: an electrical malfunction involving defective power cables caused the smoke; power to the electrified third rail was lost before the train could return to the station; ventilation fans in the tunnel pushed smoke toward the train instead of away from it; and Metro’s 15-minute delay in summoning firefighters left riders stranded on the train for more than 35 minutes. 

These failures and errors, along with a number of other safety issues, are chronicled in a scathing final report on the incident, issued by the National Transportation Safety Board this past May, which reads as an indictment of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. 

“From this report, it’s very clear that for decades now the WMATA has turned a blind eye to potential hazards and poor maintenance, refusing to learn from past disasters and perpetuating a loose safety culture,” says Patrick Regan, who, along with his firm Regan Zambri Long PLLC, is representing Glover’s family, as well as more than a dozen other passengers who suffered smoke inhalation damages, against Metro. 

Previously, Regan, with partners Salvatore Zambri and Victor Long, served as lead plaintiffs’ counsel against WMATA and others in litigation over a June 2009 train collision in which two Metrorail trains crashed near Fort Totten station, claiming nine lives and injuring roughly 80 commuters. Although that case prompted WMATA to overhaul its board of directors and upgrade its safety systems, Regan notes that this most recent incident proves the transit agency’s safety protocols remain seriously flawed.

“Six years before the L’Enfant Plaza tragedy, Metro experienced the deadliest train crash in its history, and yet, as this recent report indicates, the WMATA failed to use the safety investigations and recommendations stemming from that incident to make lasting changes to its organizational safety culture.”

As a result, Regan adds, Carol Glover’s family is seeking justice for their personal loss and also improvements to the Metro system that will make the subway safer for everyone—an approach that is consistent with the firm’s overarching mission of both securing compensation for those who have suffered a tragedy and protecting the community at large by enforcing safety rules.

Regan Zambri Long PLLC has a long history of securing multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for injured victims and their families. Its recoveries include a $17.4 million result for an attorney who suffered brain damage when his motorized wheelchair malfunctioned and a $4.8 million jury verdict for a man who was violently assaulted at a D.C. nightclub (Regan himself has handled more than 90 cases that have resulted in settlements or verdicts in excess of $1 million). Additionally, the firm often acts as a force for social good, compelling manufacturers and institutions to adopt safety measures or product redesigns that save lives.

In one of his most publicized matters, Regan served as lead counsel for the family of slain New York Times journalist David Rosenbaum in a case where the Rosenbaum family voluntarily gave up any monetary settlement in exchange for the District of Columbia’s agreement to enact significant safety reforms to its ambulance system. The firm was also instrumental in persuading the Maryland legislature to pass a law requiring landlords to either replace smoke detectors without safety-battery backups or warn tenants that the detectors won’t operate with the power off. And on a national scale, Regan Zambri Long PLLC helped prompt the federal government to request a recall of an estimated 2.7 million Chrysler Jeeps after bringing litigation against the company over the dangerous placement of gas tanks in certain Jeep models.  

“Seeing safety changes come about as a result of our efforts remains one of the most rewarding aspects of what we do,” notes Regan, who was recently honored by the Boy Scouts of America for his work in enhancing public safety in the community. “We love being able to serve the community, and whether a case has a broader impact or not, it’s always satisfying to make a difference for people in need.”