Six passengers on an Amtrak train that derailed May 12 in Philadelphia, killing eight and injuring more than 200, sued the railroad claiming the accident could have been avoided.
The first of the lawsuits listed injuries suffered by four victims including fractured ribs, torn knee ligaments, internal and head injuries and abrasions. One passenger, Felicidad Redondo Iban, a Spanish citizen, required multiple surgeries in an attempt to save her arm, according to the complaint filed Monday in Philadelphia federal court.
At least four lawsuits have been filed by passengers and crew who were aboard the train when it jumped the track in Philadelphia. A second passenger lawsuit was filed Monday in state court in Manhattan by a Swiss couple who said they suffered “severe and permanent” injuries.
Federal regulators said the train was traveling 106 miles per hour, twice the speed limit, as it approached a curve in the city’s Frankford neighborhood. The speed was “outrageously fast” given the nature of the curve, according to the complaint filed by Robert Mongeluzzi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Philadelphia passenger case.
“Amtrak has been on notice of this dangerous turn and tracks in the location of Frankford Junction for decades,” Mongeluzzi said in the complaint. “Had proper precautions and safety measures been implemented by Amtrak and the train operator, this tragedy would have been prevented and countless innocent lives would not have been devastated.”
In addition to Iban, the plaintiffs include Maria Jesus Redondo Iban, Daniel Armyn and Amy Miller. Two plaintiffs are spouses who weren’t aboard the train.
The lawsuit also names train engineer Brian Bostian, who was interviewed on Friday by accident investigators.
Amtrak officials didn’t immediately respond to a phone call to the rail system’s media line requesting comment. Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman said in a blog post on May 14 that “Amtrak takes full responsibility” for the crash and will help victims with medical bills and funeral expenses.
Emilio Fonseca of Kearny, New Jersey, and his wife, Leticia, also filed a lawsuit Monday in state court in Newark, New Jersey, seeking unspecified damages. Fonseca, an Amtrak conductor, is still hospitalized in Philadelphia with severe injuries including numerous broken bones and head trauma and is not expected to be released “for some time,” his attorney Bruce Nagel said in a statement.
“These injuries may end his railroad career,” Nagel said.
Bruce Phillips, another Amtrak employee, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia on May 14 seeking more than $150,000 in damages for injuries. Phillips suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple contusions in the accident, according to that complaint.
The case is Iban v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., 15- cv-2744, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). The New York case is Seidler v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., 154963/2015, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).
The Phillips case is Phillips v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak), 15-cv-02694, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). The Fonseca case is Fonseca v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. dba Amtrak, L-003310-15, Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County (Newark)
–With assistance from Jeff Plungis and David Lerman in Washington and Chris Dolmetsch in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.