Red Line rider injured at Harvard stop plans to sue the MBTA

The Harvard MBTA stop on the Red Line has been the site of two safety incidents in just two months. (Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez/WBUR)
The Harvard MBTA stop on the Red Line has been the site of two safety incidents in just two months. (Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez/WBUR)

A woman hurt by falling equipment on a Red Line platform spoke publicly Wednesday about the injuries she suffered last week at Harvard station. She said she plans to sue the MBTA.

Joycelyn Johnson, a 28-year-old Harvard doctoral candidate in molecular cell biology, said she was waiting for a train home, when a utility box fell from overhead and struck her. The box was apparently outdated and no longer in use.

Johnson's injuries include a detached clavicle, according to her attorneys. She said she’s “never felt this type of pain,” and has gone to the emergency room twice since the incident. She said she feels pain from her shoulder across her entire back. The pain is “deep rooted, I have nerve pain all the way to my digits,” she explained.

Doctors prescribed Johnson pain medication, she said, and she is still working with medical providers to understand what long-term care will be required.

The injuries have made it difficult for Johnson to finish her coursework, and impacted her ongoing research. “Essentially I can’t use both hands and so that’s something that's necessary in experimentation,” Johnson said.

Her attorney, Thomas Flaws, said his client plans to file a lawsuit against the MBTA to “address her injuries.” Flaws said he will send a formal letter to the T announcing his client's intention within a week.

In an email, a spokesperson for the T said the agency “deeply regrets that this incident occurred” and is working “everyday to ensure safety for all.”

The utility box that fell on Johnson was one of 14 installed at the Harvard, Porter and Davis T stations in 2011 as part of a pilot program led by MIT and funded by the federal Department of Homeland Security. The boxes have not been used since 2013, according to the T.

MBTA General Manager Phil Eng directed staff to remove all remaining boxes last week.

Harvard is the same station where a falling ceiling tile narrowly missed a passenger on a platform two months ago. The T will conduct a "top to bottom" examination of all its stations, according to Gov. Maura Healey.


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Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez Transportation Reporter
Andrea Perdomo-Hernandez is a transportation reporter for WBUR.



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