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Victims Who Testified at State’s Crash Hearing File Lawsuits Against Metrolink

Metrolink Lawsuit

Los Angeles, December 15, 2005 – – The survivors of 3 passengers killed and 9 passengers injured in the January 26 Metrolink crash in Glendale filed lawsuits today against Southern California Regional Rail Authority (S.C.R.R.A.), d/b/a Metrolink and the MTA alleging negligence and maintaining dangerous property.

Baum Hedlund train accident attorneys Clark Aristei and Paul Hedlund represent 13 passengers. One lawsuit was previously filed. The government claims required before filing actual lawsuits were filed months ago and rejected, thus the filing of these complaints/lawsuits.

Three Baum Hedlund clients and their attorney Paul Hedlund, also a mechanical engineer, testified at the California State Assembly’s Special Committee on Passenger Rail Safety in July and showed two independently produced train crash test videos exposing the vulnerability of cab cars. The videos stunned the Committee members when it revealed the cab car with shock absorbers suffered very little damage compared to the cab car without.

The attorneys said this case is not about Alvarez, the man who left his jeep on the tracks, but that derailments are a part of the day-to-day railroad operations and Metrolink leaves its passengers and crew in the front cab cars exposed.

“Every year Metrolink can count on a number of derailments at grade-crossings. Do we do nothing or do we give passengers the benefit of improved safety and stop the pushing of trains?,” Clark Aristei stated.

The Allegations:

The 12 lawsuits allege that before and on January 26, 2005:

  • Metrolink knew or should have known, among other things, regarding the safe operation of commuter trains in Southern California that there would be incidents, collisions, and derailments involving property damage, injuries, and death to its passengers and crew

    That suicidal people would place themselves in front of moving trains

  • That cab cars suffer more damage than locomotives in push operation accidents

  • That improved passenger rail car crashworthiness standards were disseminated in 1999 yet Metrolink did not take advantage of these

  • That cab cars were known as “coffin cars”

  • That Metrolink provided inadequate warnings to its passengers of pre-impact dangers

  • That Metrolink trains did not use public address or radio communications from the cab car to the passengers on its trains and to other nearby trains for communication of warnings to passengers on its trains. In fact when the engineer in the cab car of Train 100 saw the vehicle on the tracks ahead, he put the train into emergency brake mode and exited the cab. He walked about five feet and told whoever was listening to “Hang on.” There was no pre-impact public address or radio warning given to the passengers of Train 100 or to Train 901.

In the complaints filed today by the plaintiffs it also brings notice to the fact that if pushing of trains is so safe, as Metrolink claims, then why in Metrolink’s promotional materials do they only publish images of its trains in operation with the locomotive in front, pulling the passenger cars, and not the
image of the cab car leading?

Only this week, almost a year after the accident and months of public pressure, has Metrolink announced that it will be installing shock absorbers on their trains.

Baum Hedlund clients, Lien Wiley, Steve Toby and Elaine Parent Siebers testified at the State Assembly hearing, suggesting many changes to make passenger trains safer. Some of their suggestions included banning pushing of trains, installing automatic gates at all rail crossings, installing sensors, radar and/or cameras to warn of obstructions, train turn-arounds, passenger car crashworthiness improvements, seat belts, better rail disaster training and alerting of passengers before a crash.

For a copy of one of the complaints contact Robin McCall at Baum Hedlund.



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