Letter Head


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:
The Hatchett Firm, PC
191 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 2600
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(404) 487-6575
media@thehatchettfirm.com


GLENDA HATCHETT JOINS AS CO COUNSEL IN LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST MARTA AND BUS DRIVER FOR THE SEXUAL ASSAULT OF DISABLED PASSENGER



NASH V. METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY
and XAVIER WINFREY
13a48400-1 State Court of DeKalb County



ATLANTA, March 17, 2015 - Glenda Hatchett, former Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court of Fulton County, Georgia, and host of the nationally syndicated television show, "Judge Hatchett," formally entered an appearance as co-counsel yesterday with lead attorneys Thomas Cuffie and Harold Spence of The Cuffie Law Firm, in a lawsuit filed by Ray Nash, ("Nash,") the injured party's father, against the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority ("MARTA") and a former MARTA employee, Xavier Winfrey ("Winfrey"). The lawsuit claims Winfrey, a MARTA bus driver on the Mobility bus line, designated exclusively for passengers with severe disabilities, is responsible for multiple unlawful heinous acts, including sexual battery, rape, sodomy, aggravated sodomy, false imprisonment, abuse, and exploitation of a disabled person, while on duty. Additionally, the lawsuit claims the injured party's assault and injuries were the result of MARTA's failure to exercise the extraordinary diligence required of it by law, in failing to properly supervise and monitor Winfrey.



Nash's daughter is a medically documented severely developmentally disabled young woman with cerebral palsy.



Hatchett joins the plaintiff's legal team at this juncture because she feels strongly, as do Cuffie and Spence, that this litigation has gone on much too long and should have been resolved years ago."To date, MARTA has not attempted to resolve this matter and what's even more disappointing and disheartening, MARTA has intentionally engaged in lengthy, costly legal maneuvers -adding more burden to a family that has already been so deeply affected by this tragic incident," Hatchett said. "That is why I stepped beyond the bench and established The Hatchett Firm - to work tirelessly seeking the results people deserve. I am honored that Attorneys Cuffie and Spence have asked me to join their team."



On September 23, 2011, then only 21 years old, the injured party boarded the MARTA Mobility bus at the designated Mobility pick-up location at Emory Egleston Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. The injured party was the only passenger remaining and the last stop on Winfrey's route. Once inside the injured party's neighborhood, Winfrey parked the bus, turned off the ignition, therefore deliberately deactivating the surveillance camera. Winfrey then forced the injured party to the floor on the back of the bus to perform oral sex on him, spat on the injured party twice for the purpose of lubricating her vagina and anus, penetrated her vaginally with his fingers, and penetrated her anally with his fingers and penis, without a condom, causing a severe tear of her anus. Over and over the injured party begged Winfrey to stop. After he finished brutalizing the injured party, Winfrey told her to get dressed; he then returned to the front of the Mobility bus, turned on the ignition, and dropped the injured party off at her home.



The next morning, realizing that something was terribly wrong with their daughter, the injured party's parents took her to the MARTA Police Station to file a report. She was interrogated for hours without having her parents present before being taken to the hospital for a rape kit and examination to be performed. The rape kit and medical examination substantiated the sexual assault and revealed the severe anal tear caused by Winfrey's sexual assault.



Although Mr. and Mrs. Nash are not the injured party's biological parents, over twenty years ago they moved her and her twin brother, who also has had disabilities since birth, and their older sibling into their home when the injured party and her twin brother were only three years old. The children's biological mother could not care for them. A relative in New York who had custody of the children died suddenly and Mr. and Mrs. Nash moved the children to live with them. They have loved and nurtured their daughter, supporting her through her severe disabilities and all the challenges that are associated with her condition since she was a toddler.



Since the incident in 2011, MARTA has failed to take any responsibility and denied all liability for what happened to the injured party. MARTA's claims that Winfrey was acting outside of the scope of his employment and that the injured party consented to the heinous sexual acts are both despicable and disappointing. Due to the injured party's mental retardation and severe cognitive disabilities, she is incapable of legally giving consent, of which MARTA is fully aware, because of the classification MARTA assigned to the injured party's disabilities less than a year prior when her application to MARTA's Mobility service was approved. Additionally, MARTA provided Winfrey with extensive training concerning the specific characteristics and vulnerabilities of persons with severe cognitive disabilities. The record is clear that Winfrey was on duty and that MARTA paid Winfrey for the entire shift, including the time in which he committed the gruesome assault against the injured party.



We entrust some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens to the care of MARTA each day for their transportation needs. That trust requires enormous responsibilities on the part of MARTA, for which MARTA receives federal and local funding to serve our disabled citizens. Taxpayers expect that their tax dollars are being spent in the best interests of our disabled citizens. Notably, in fiscal year 2010, MARTA received $18.3 million dollars in Federal American with Disabilities aid in addition to other federal funding. MARTA must be held accountable and MARTA must ensure that no other trusting citizen will experience the same travesty. To that end, the legal team is demanding that MARTA take the necessary actions to protect its disabled citizens.



The attorneys will aggressively proceed to trial with Hatchett delivering the opening statement to the jury, in order to bring this chapter of the nightmare to a close for the Nash family. Justice must be served now.




PLAINTIFF'S DEMANDS


  1. MARTA must be held responsible for the safety of all passengers, and especially MARTA Mobility disabled passengers.
  2. MARTA must uphold its duty to provide safe transport to disabled patrons, including freedom from sexual abuse by MARTA drivers.
    The more vulnerable the population being served, the greater the duty is to protect them.
  3. MARTA must install updated security systems, and consistently monitor the activity of MARTA Mobility drivers and passengers.
    MARTA had the ability to monitor the Mobility bus routes via GPS Tracking. However, on the date of the incident, MARTA supervisors failed to do so. MARTA owed a duty to undertake periodic GPS and security checks of the Mobility bus routes and to create a culture where its employees knew they would be monitored, in turn discouraging intentional, injurious employee behavior, and advancing the safety of its passengers.

    In the FY2015 Budget, MARTA set aside $24 million over the next 5 years to upgrade the fare collection system, but only plans to contribute $2 million per year to update and maintain its security cameras. MARTA should invest more in security systems to ensure the safety of its passengers and perhaps less in collecting fares. Additionally, MARTA currently has 187 Mobility vans and buses with a total of 308 drivers - 248 full time and 60 part time. The Office of Mobility Services only employs 3 Supervisors for the 308 drivers - a disparaging 1:103 supervisor to employee ratio. MARTA needs to increase the number of supervisors for the Mobility operators, and ensure that they are monitored consistently and competently.
  4. When a MARTA employee breaks the law and MARTA employment policies by sexually assaulting a cognitively disabled person, MARTA must fix the problem - not blame the victim.
    By approving Ms. Nash's application for the Mobility transit system, MARTA provided their own review of her medical history and current condition, even certifying her as Category 1 disabled. However, MARTA now tries to argue that she was able to consent to sexual activity with Defendant Winfrey, in turn, blaming the victim.
  5. MARTA needs to take more responsible steps to make sure no other individual - and their family - experiences a heinous violation such as this.



DEFENDANT XAVIER WINFREY

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DEFENDANT MARTA

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