Passengers sue US rail operator over Philadelphia crash

Passengers sue US rail operator over Philadelphia crash

NEW YORK - Four passengers injured in last week's deadly train derailment in Philadelphia filed a federal lawsuit Monday seeking damages that could help challenge a legal cap of $200 million (S$265 million).

The four-count lawsuit accuses operator Amtrak of causing the "tragic and preventable" accident through "reckless operation on the tracks and (an) inexcusable decision to not include a necessary safety system."

Eight people were killed and more than 200 passengers injured when Amtrak Train 188 derailed in Philadelphia on May 12.

The train was traveling at more than 100 miles (160 kilometers per hour) -- twice the speed limit -- when the driver slammed on the emergency brakes just before the crash.

The plaintiffs are New York advertising creative officer Daniel Armyn, Amy Miller from the New Jersey university town of Princeton and Spanish tourists Maria Jesus Redondo Iban and Felicidad Redondo Iban.

They sustained "serious and disabling" injuries "as a result of the careless, reckless and outrageous conduct" of Amtrak, the lawsuit said.

The suit also accused engineer Brandon Bostian of recklessness.

Felicidad Redondo Iban was forced to undergo multiple surgeries in an attempt to save her arm from amputation, the lawsuit stated.

The plaintiffs' injuries have involved and could continue to involve costly medical treatment, loss of earnings, pain, disfigurement, mental anguish, humiliation and fear, the suit argues.

Armyn's wife, Nicole, and Maria Jesus Redondo Iban's husband, Marino Uicero Estrades, neither of whom were on the train, were also named as plaintiffs.

The 36-page suit accuses Amtrak of negligence, outrageous conduct and two counts of loss of consortium -- being deprived of a spouse's love and affection -- for each spouse in question.

In 1997, Congress capped any Amtrak payout to victims of a crash at $200 million as part of legislation to save the operator from financial ruin.

But Robert Zimmerman, from law firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett and Bendesky that filed the suit, said the firm believed the cap was "unconstitutional and insufficient."

"We will be seeking ways to challenge that both in court and legislatively," he told AFP.

On Monday, Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, introduced legislation to raise the cap from $200 million to $500 million.

Zimmerman said the firm was in contact with several other victims and would be meeting with them throughout the week.

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.