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Just weeks after Metro announced a surveillance pilot program to reduce assaults against bus drivers along the X2 route, a woman has filed a civil lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court alleging that a bus driver committed “verbal and physical attacks based solely on her sexual orientation.”
River Terrace resident Britteny Floyd claims that Metro employee Gerald Johnson made anti-gay slurs towards her and her partner, Brianah Anderson, on the evening of June 23, 2013, as they rode a bus traveling to Gallery Place. According to the lawsuit, Johnson looked at Anderson inappropriately at the start of their ride and told Floyd upon exiting, “Don’t let your male tendencies think you’re a man”; he subsequently “stood up and attacked Floyd with hate and violence,” the suits says, repeatedly punching her outside of the bus and “fracturing a couple of her fingers.” As a result of the attack, Floyd will continue to spend “large sums of money” for medical care and other expenses as well as suffer “embarrassment, shame, and emotional distress,” the suit claims.
One of Floyd’s attorneys, Elton Norman, says his client was previously acquitted of assaulting the bus driver. Her civil case against WMATA and Johnson has been transferred to a federal court in Greenbelt, Md. at WMATA’s request. “We filed it as a bias-related claim because of the circumstances,” he explains. Floyd and her attorneys are jointly suing Johnson and WMATA for $500,000, plus incidental costs.
A Metro spokesperson, Sherri Ly, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. Johnson is being represented by WMATA’s general counsel, Carol O’Keefe.
Two years ago, NBC Washington reported that Floyd admitted to throwing “a piece of paper” at an X2 bus driver before he hit her with “something sharp in his hands.” Witnesses interviewed said they saw Floyd hitting the driver, a claim she denied. She added that it was “a hate crime.”
“I think every situation is unique and different,” Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik told NBC reporter Adam Tuss at the time. “I think an operator has some right to defend himself.”
The discrimination lawsuit comes amid growing concerns about bus driver and passenger safety in D.C. Most recently, those worries were sparked by an incident last Friday during which a W8 bus was shot on the 2400 block of Elvans Road SE, leaving one rider injured. As a result of this and other incidents, Metro has suspended service along Elvans Road SE after 7 p.m. for a week.
Norman, Floyd’s attorney, says the civil suit should be scheduled for trial soon. Read the full complaint below.
Photo by JLaw45 via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License