Trial underway in Amtrak derailment lawsuit

Crashes

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nearly 2 years after the deadly derailment of an Amtrak train in Washington, a trial is underway in the first civil lawsuit related to the disaster.

An Amtrak train heading toward Portland derailed in Dupont on December 18, 2017, killing 3 and injuring 65 others. The trail flew off the rails of the Point Defiance Bypass while going about 50 mph over the recommended speed.

Three men who were injured in this incident have filed lawsuits. Two of them were on the train when it flew off the rails. The other victim was a driver on I-5 when it came crashing down.

The attorney representing these men said this issue is part of a bigger picture with Amtrak rather than a 1-time, tragic accident.

“This is a systemic problem with AMTRAK. This is not an individual accident,” said attorney David Beninger. “It was an institutional problem that made an accident waiting to happen.”

The National Transportation Safety Board published its final report on the crash in June, saying the engineer lost track of where he was and failed to slow down before the curve.

NTSB’s vice chairman, Bruce Landsberg, said the “root cause was extremely lax safety oversight, unclear responsibility, and poor training.”

There is no specific amount being asked, the plaintiffs have decided to leave that up to the jury. The Associated Press reported that Beninger told jurors Amtrak admitted liability for negligence and that it’s the job of the jury to decide how much his clients should receive.

“They’re going to ask you to shave down what the full, fair compensation is,” Beninger said.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.

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