In December 2017, an Amtrak train plunged off a railroad overpass onto Interstate 5, killing three people and injuring dozens more. The train was on its first paid passenger run on a new route from Tacoma, Wash., to Portland, Ore., traveling 80mph in a 30mph zone.
Our team at Luvera Law Firm, including attorneys David Beninger, Patricia Anderson and Andrew Hoyal, represent several of the plaintiffs in their suits against Amtrak.
Donnell Linton, 47 of Renton, is one of many passengers of Amtrak Cascades 501 who took action against Amtrak after the train left the tracks and some of its cars crashed onto the freeway below, leaving him seriously injured. A jury awarded him more than $10 million.
“He and his son got ejected from the train and landed on the pavement below,” said David Beninger. “His dad basically saved his life by wrapping him up and holding him to his chest as they flew through the air to the pavement. Amtrak has spent more time trying to fight these cases than they have trying to fix their problems. Hopefully this verdict will help encourage positive changes.”
A jury also awarded nearly $17 million to Dale Skyllingstad, Blaine Wilmotte, and Madison Wilmotte, who sued for past and future economic and non-economic damages following the crash.
Two were severely injured in the crash. Skyllingstad was a passenger on the train and Blaine Wilmotte was driving on the interstate below when the train derailed.
Another passenger, Aaron Harris, suffered a traumatic brain injury, as well as vertebrae and rib fractures, and spent about 10 days in the intensive care and acute care units at Harborview Medical Center. Harris has also filed a lawsuit against Amtrak.
“Amtrak is promising a host of safety changes, but let’s be clear: they are playing a deadly game of catch-up. It’s been a decade since they were first directed to install positive train control. We’ve heard a lot of empty promises and a lot of excuses,” said Robert Gellatly. “The Amtrak CEO claims he wants to learn from tragedies like this. Before the Amtrak Cascades, we saw catastrophic and preventable crashes in Philadelphia, New York, and California, to name a few. How many lessons will it take before Amtrak is actually held accountable for safety?”
The case brought to light larger safety issues with Amtrak that put passengers at risk. Luvera attorneys not only fought for justice for victims of the derailment, but also raised awareness of these safety issues that had a more global reach.
Relevant press coverage of the derailment and its aftermath:
- Jury awards $10 million to man injured in deadly Amtrak derailment (The Seattle Times)
- Jury awards Amtrak train crash victim $10 million (KING-5)
- Seattle man faces long recovery after Amtrak derailment, but financial claims could be limited (The Seattle Times)
- Jury awards nearly $17 million to 3 plaintiffs in Amtrak derailment suit (KING-5)
- Jury awards nearly $17M to first victims to sue Amtrak after deadly 2017 train derailment (FOX 13 Seattle)
- Jury to decide compensation for injured passengers in 2017 Amtrak crash near Seattle (The Oregonian)
- Trial underway in Amtrak derailment lawsuit (KOIN-6)
- Amtrak concedes negligence in catastrophic 2017 derailment south of Tacoma (KUOW)
- First lawsuit against Amtrak over deadly Washington derailment goes to trial (KING-5)
- AMTRAK derailment trial opens in Tacoma (KOMO)
- DuPont train derailment victims take Amtrak to court (FOX 13 Seattle)
- DuPont train derailment a total system failure, investigators rule (FOX 13 Seattle)
- Deadly 2017 Amtrak wreck could have been prevented, feds conclude (NW News Network)
- Amtrak Accident Subject of Board Meeting (National Transportation Safety Board)
- Attorney for an Amtrak crash victim, Robert Gellatly with the Luvera Law Firm (KIRO Radio 97.3)
- Passenger severely injured in Amtrak derailment files lawsuit (KING-5)
- Family of critically injured Amtrak passenger wants answers (KING-5)
- Several dead after Amtrak train traveling at 80 mph derails from bridge onto I-5 (The Seattle Times)
- Multiple Deaths in Amtrak Train Derailment in Washington (The New York Times)
- At least 3 dead in Amtrak derailment in Washington state, official says (CNN)