A group of passengers that include a woman whose arm was nearly severed and a man who suffered broken bones, knocked out teeth and torn ligaments in the violent, high-speed derailment of Amtrak Regional 188 last Tuesday have filed suit against the railroad.
It's second lawsuit filed since eight people were killed and more than 200 injured when seven passenger cars and a locomotive careened off the Northeast Corridor tracks at more than 100 mph on a curve in Port Richmond.
Spanish national Felicidad Redondo Iban, 64, was traveling through the United States with her cousin Maria Jesus Redondo Iban when the derailment happened. Felicidad's right arm was nearly severed after being pinned in the wreckage while Maria, 55, suffered a number of cuts, bruises and post-traumatic stress from the ordeal, the suit claims.
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Brooklyn advertising executive Daniel Armyn, 43, had three ribs broken, teeth knocked from his mouth, a pelvic injury and bruised lungs. He also tore both his ACL and MCL from being tossed around the metal passenger car, according to the lawsuit.
Another passenger, Amy Miller, 39, of Princeton, New Jersey, hurt her back and suffered a concussion. A 23-year-old woman and several of the victims' spouses were are part of the suit as well.
Attorneys Tom Kline and Robert Mongeluzzi are representing the group. They are placing blame on Amtrak for failing to use safety systems like Automatic Train Control, or ATC, which can slow down or stop a train that is speeding. This technology was in use for years on the southbound side of the tracks. A newer system, called Positive Train Control, was undergoing testing on the line, but was not operational.
The attorneys also say 32-year-old engineer Brandon Bostian, the man behind the train's throttle, should have never been speeding.
"There is no excuse for that, it's deadly," Mongeluzzi said. He added that the legal team will take a long, hard look at Bostian's memory loss of the event.
Rail service resumed on Monday after repairs were made to the damaged lines. The investigation remains on-going with the NTSB and FBI investigating whether the locomotive was hit by a projectile before the crash and trying to determine what led to the speeding. No charges have been filed in the case.
The lawsuit filing comes four days after Amtrak employee Bruce Phillips sued the railroad for injuries he sustained in the derailment. Phillips was "deadheading" or riding a train home off-duty when the crash happened. He suffered head injuries in the crash.
One potential roadblock for the plaintiffs in the two filed suits and others that are sure to come is a $200 million cap on damages. Congress set the limit in 1997 as a way to protect the financially-troubled rail company from being bankrupted by a huge lawsuit. But now citizens and lawmakers are calling for that to change.
Florida Senator Bill Nelson introduced a bill Monday to more than double the liability cap to $500 million.
Amtrak said they do not comment on pending litigation.