Amtrak has announced that it will not contest liability in claims stemming from May’s deadly train derailment in Philadelphia. It filed responses to complaints in lawsuits filed by two passengers injured in the accident. The filings represent the first time that Amtrak has conceded to legal liability for Train 188’s derailment, which killed eight passengers and injured more than 200 others. “Amtrak … admits that Train 188 was traveling in excess of the allowable speed at the time the train derailed, and states that it will not contest liability for compensatory damages proximately caused by the derailment,” the company said in response. The suits were filed by a group of four passengers and their families.
Train 188 was en route from Washington D.C., to New York City when it derailed shortly after making a scheduled stop at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station on the night of May 12. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said that the train was traveling at more than 100 mph when it entered a curve in an area of track known as Frankford Junction. The posted speed limit on that section of the track is 50 mph. Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman issued a statement after the crash, saying that the company took “full responsibility” for the accident. It now appears that liability won’t be an issue in any litigation arising out of the incident. More than 20 cases filed by Train 188 passengers are currently pending in state and federal courts.
It appears there will be a multidistrict litigation (MDL) created in Philadelphia to handle the derailment cases. Given Amtrak’s willingness to support the creation of a new MDL, the Plaintiffs asked the U.S. Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to grant expedited hearing of their consolidated MDL motion. However, the panel declined to depart from its “long-standing practice” and denied the motion. The panel is expected to consider the motion at an upcoming hearing in New York at the beginning of October. Hopefully, the MDL will be created and put in a fast track.
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