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Lawsuits Continue to Emerge in Amtrak Case
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A little over a month after a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia, lawsuits are frequently being filed by victims and their families to recover monetary damages.

Summary: A little over a month after a deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia, lawsuits are increasingly being filed by victims and their families to recover monetary damages.

According to the Legal Intelligencer, motions have been filed in several lawsuits stemming from the May 12 Amtrak derailment that occurred in Philadelphia. Additionally, Amtrak has hired a law firm to represent it in the suits. Yuri J. Brunetti of Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford will represent the rail entity.

  
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Brunetti

Brunetti

One of the motions requested that Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board both preserve and track the custody of evidence gathered in the case. Amtrak responded, arguing that it has no control over how evidence is gathered. This task is the NTSB’s responsibility, Amtrak argued. Amtrak also asked that the motion be denied on the grounds that it is premature.

In the response, Amtrak stated, “While the NTSB has designated Amtrak as a formal party to the investigation, the NTSB expects Amtrak to observe confidentiality rules; specifically, Amtrak is not permitted to disclose any ‘investigative information’ to anyone outside the NTSB investigation.”

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In 2011, suits were filed against Amtrak in Nevada.

Amtrak further argued that the NTSB has the final say in how the investigation is carried out. Through court documents, it argued, “Accordingly, given these confidentiality requirements, and the fact that the NTSB has possession and control of the evidence at issue in plaintiff’s motion, Amtrak cannot make the evidence at issue available for inspection and cannot take responsibility for the preservation of all such evidence.”



Plaintiffs Bruce and Kalita Phillips filed a response, requesting that the court force Amtrak and the NTSB to itemize all evidence and to notify plaintiffs’ attorneys when the evidence is supposed to be released. They further stated that confidentiality had already been compromised, since both the NTSB and Amtrak have commented publicly on the May 12 accident.

In 2013, a commuter train derailed in New York City.

The reply further said, “Amtrak’s representation that it will preserve evidence once released by the NTSB is insufficient to ensure plaintiffs’ rights and to provide necessary protection of the evidence. Amtrak’s negligence killed and maimed too many innocent employees and passengers to simply trust Amtrak to do the right thing. The passengers on train No. 188 had placed their trust in Amtrak and the result was death and devastating injuries.”

Landman Corsi, the firm hired to represent Amtrak, handles transportation cases, including railroad claims. It has represented Amtrak in the past.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gill will represent the NTSB.

The case could grow quickly to include hundreds of plaintiffs. Over 200 passengers were injured and eight died in the derailment. According to NY1.com, one victim who was killed was set to graduate with his Ph.D. later that month.

On Monday, two additional complaints were filed, one by Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck and one by Ross Feller Casey. A lawsuit was also filed by a pair of newlyweds that were traveling in a car that flipped over, according to the New York Daily News.

McLaughling & Lauricella is also managing a claim against Amtrak that was filed last month. The firm represents Megan Piccirillo, a 20-year-old woman from New York, who suffered head trauma, shoulder trauma, and knee injuries due to the accident.

In four other cases, the plaintiffs will be jointly represented by Kline & Specter and Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky. Robert Mongeluzzi commented that the accident was “a scene out of hell,” and that inside the train cars was “a scene of indescribable horror.”

Mongeluzzi

Mongeluzzi

A conductor in charge of a train that derailed in Madrid in 2013 was allegedly on his phone at the time of the crash.

The four plaintiffs in these suits are Felicidad Redondo Iban, 64, of Spain, who nearly lost his right arm in the derailment; Maria Jesus Redondo Iban, 55, the cousin of Felicidad who suffered lacerations to the face and a concussion; Daniel Armyn, 43, of Brooklyn, who broke three ribs and lost several teeth; and Amy Miller, 39, from Princeton, who suffered several cuts as well as back injuries.

Do you think Amtrak will pay the maximum of $200 million in damages?

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The damages available for all victims are capped at $200 million according to a federal law passed in 1997. The law states that Amtrak’s liability for a single incident is a maximum of $200 million.

U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will preside over the pending suits. Davis has logged 13 years on the federal bench, and prior to that, served as a judge in the criminal division of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Davis is also a former prosecutor.

James T. Giles, a former judge, remarked, “He’s an excellent judge. Extremely bright and he will give everyone a chance to have his or her say. He’s capable of handling a case of any size and complexity.”

Source: The Legal Intelligencer

Photo credit: ekantipur.com, LCBF.com (Brunetti), philly.com (Mongeluzzi)



 

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