Friday, October 28, 2016

Amtrak agrees to $265 million settlement for fatal Philadelphia crash.

The New York (NY) Times (10/27, Mele, Subscription Publication, 13.42M) reports that on Thursday, Amtrak agreed to pay $265 million to settle claims regarding a train accident that resulted in the deaths of eight passengers and injuries to more than 200 people. The Times explains the crash occurred in May 2015 when the train took a tight curve at 106 miles-per-hour, which was twice the speed limit. The Times says lawyers believe the figure is the largest settlement in a railroad disaster in US history.
        The Wall Street Journal (10/27, Calvert, Subscription Publication, 6.37M) reports David C. Cook, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said that if the damages exceed $265 million, all of the individual claims will be proportionately lowered. The Journal says the large award was possible because Congress voted to increase the federal damages cap for railway accidents to $295 million from its previous level at $200 million. The piece explains the $265 million figure is the present value of $295 million in 2.5 years, the minimum length lawyers believe will be needed to sort through the individual claims. The Philadelphia Inquirer (10/27, Mondics, 586K) reports the settlement was “reached with unusual speed,” and another of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Robert Mongeluzzi, called the speed with which an agreement was reached, “historic.”
        The AP (10/27, Dale) reports the crash occurred because engineer Brandon Bostain “didn’t realize where he was and accelerated full-throttle to 106 mph instead of slowing down for the curve’s 50 mph speed limit.” Bostain was said to be distracted by reports that “a nearby train had been hit by a rock.” New Jersey Local News (10/27, Gallo, 747K) reports the National Transportation Safety Board also faulted a lack of Positive Train Control as contributing to the accident.

        Reuters (10/27, Kearney) reports Amtrak Spokesman Craig Schulz said in a statement, “Amtrak appreciates the guidance and involvement of the Court in this matter.” He added, “Because of the ongoing nature of the litigation Amtrak will have no further comment at this time.” 

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