Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Amtrak relating to a December 18 crash that led to 3 deaths and 80 people injured. The Washington crash resulted in the Amtrak train hanging over the I-5 highway as travel came to a halt.
The train was leaving from Tacoma and met its demise near Lacey.
Reports suggest that the train, which was in its inaugural trip on a new route that would reduce the time between Seattle to Portland, was traveling at 78 miles per hour instead of 30 miles per hour before it derailed.
Garrick Freeman, 48-years-old, filed a lawsuit. He suffered from cracked ribs and a shattered pelvis in the accident. Freeman is a conductor that was asked to work on the trip. He told his employers that he hadn’t been trained on the bypass segment, where the accident occurred, and that he was uncomfortable being the train’s conductor.
Amtrak put Freeman along with the engineer in the lead locomotive.
Freeman was not the train’s conductor. Instead, his concerns were met with Amtrak allowing him to ride along while another worker was on Freeman’s conductor duties. Freeman was supposed to ride along to familiarize himself with the new route, and most importantly, the bypass segment, which requires the train to be moving at 30 miles per hour.
The train derailed at the dangerous intersection that led to 12 of the train’s cars being thrown off of the elevated tracks. Some of the train’s cars hit vehicles on Interstate 5.
“Personal injuries cause damage beyond the scope of the physical injury itself. They have a significant impact on an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, and financial status. Each year, roughly 24 million Americans experience a personal injury that affects their lives and income,” states Cogburn Law Offices.
The lawsuits against Amtrak allege that the company didn’t prepare their employees to properly operate the train.
The lawsuit alleges that Amtrak provided inadequate training. Documents show that the company fit at least six engineers and conductors in the train during a nighttime training run. Many of the employees, who were on the train for training, were also scattered in other parts of the train.
Experts call the training procedure “abysmal.”
Pennie Cottrell, a passenger on the train, has also filed a lawsuit. Cottrell suffered a neck injury, internal injuries, broken ribs and a broken collarbone due to the accident. Additional lawsuits quickly followed by 24-year-old Blaine Wilmotte also filing a lawsuit.
He suffered from multiple fractures and emotional injuries. Blaine was the first person to file a lawsuit who was not in the train at the time of the derailment. He was in a passenger vehicle heading to a job site when the train derailed and hit the vehicle he was traveling in.
Cottrell’s attorney spoke with KIRO 7, stating, “As a common carrier for hire, Amtrak owes a duty of the highest care to the individuals it is transporting. Amtrak utterly failed in its duties and responsibilities to the victims on the train as well as those who were in the unfortunate path of the train as it left the tracks and crushed numerous vehicles on Interstate 5.”