Following the deadly crash that claimed the lives of eight people while injuring several, a lawyer from New York is pressing charges on Amtrak along with the engineer on the train on behalf of two severely injured women from Queens.
The feds announced that the engineer, Brandon Bostian, was using his cell phone to make calls and text on the day of the incident. However, they “have not yet made a determination if there was any phone activity during the time the train was being operated.”
Attorney Philip Russotti says that he wants to “challenge the constitutionality” of the $200 million per accident cap on damages imposed by the Congress in 1997. According to Daily News, he said that the statute is unfair because it will only cover passengers, “not railroad employees.”
“The statute creates different classes of people,” Russotti said. “It is my position this shows the irrationality of the statute.”
According to CNN, the $200 million per accident cap came into effect with an aim to limit the cost to taxpayers. Being subsidized by the federal government, Amtrak covers its losses.
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In a statement, Russotti said his clients, Polina and Lyudmila Shevchuk, “sustained head injuries from being thrown inside a passenger car.
“One plaintiff sustained a fractured skull and facial scarring.”
Authorities have not been able to find out why the train sped up from 70 miles per hour to 106 miles per hour the minute before it flipped over and crashed. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the FBI’s examination of the damage caused to the windscreen does not suggest usage of firearm.
Polina’s husband, Petro, has also been included as a plaintiff. According to the court papers filed in Queens State Supreme Court, he was “deprived of the care, comfort and services” of his wife.
Regarding whether the conductor was using his cell phone, the NTSB said in a statement that investigators are trying to determine the same by “correlating the time stamps in the engineer’s cellphone records with multiple data sources including the locomotive event recorder, the locomotive outward facing video, recorded radio communications, and surveillance video.”
Conductor Emilio Fonseca and dispatcher Bruce Phillips, along with three others, have already filed lawsuits against Amtrak.
According to Reuters, Fonseca’s attorney Bruce Nagel said that Fonseca was taking a restroom break in the first car when the train derailed and crashed.
Nagel said, “In a lot of ways, Mr. Fonseca is a hero. He was there with a broken back, broken neck, broken shoulders and he managed to continue to warn passengers to be careful of the live electrical wires that were all around the train wreck.”
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