3 sue Amtrak after deadly train derailment

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Three people who were involved with the deadly train derailment in Dupont are suing Amtrak — and their lawyers said more lawsuits are expected to be filed soon.

Two people who were on the trail and another who was injured in a car on the highway below have all filed suits.

The lawyers said their clients suffered serious physical and emotional pain because of the incident on Dec. 18, which killed 3 people and injured dozens more. The NTSB concluded that the train was going 78 mph in a 30 mph zone when it derailed.

Read the complaints below

Michael Krzak — a partner at Clifford Law Offices — is representing Pennie Cottrell. He said she was in Car 7 — the one that dangled over the tracks and over the highway.

“From her perspective, it was the most terrible thing she’s ever been through,” Krzak said. “She has multiple broken ribs, a fractured clavicle. You know, she’s following up with doctors — broken ribs are very painful, they take a long time to heal.”

While Cottrell was a passenger on the train, a second lawsuit was filed by a conductor — Garrick Freeman — who was in training at the time of the derailment.

“The locomotive was starting the turn and he knew it was over,” Freeman’s lawyer, Anthony Petru said. “He thought he was going to die.”

Freeman he suffered from a shattered pelvis and cracked ribs.

“Because he is an employee of the railroad, he has a right to sue Amtrak, under the Federal Employers Liability Act. We call it FELA,” Petru said.

The third lawsuit was filed on behalf of Blaine Wilmott, 24, who was a passenger in a car on his way to work. According to his lawyers at Clifford Law Offices, he suffered multiple traumatic fractures of his limbs and emotional injuries.

“Our clients cannot fathom how Amtrak 501 entered a curve at almost three times the posted speed limit according to information the NTSB has released,” Wilmott’s lawyer Michael Krzak said

Krzak also said other injured people and the families of victims who died have contacted the firm “because of Amtrak representatives reaching out to them in the hospital with paperwork to sign without a complete explanation of what their rights are following such a tragic incident.”

The NTSB released their preliminary investigation Thursday. They said that 6 seconds before the deadly derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition — adding that it didn’t appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency braking mode.

A spokesperson for NTSB said a transcript of the audio that was recorded in an on board video will be released, but video is protected and only used for investigation purposes.

He also said it’s “uncertain” when investigators will interview the operator of the locomotive.

“We have made our desire to interview the crew members known to them,” he said. “We area waiting until each recovers sufficiently to speak to investigator.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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