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Amtrak train derailment: Clients in the news, railroad law updates

The lawyers at Luvera Law Firm represent several passengers and community members who were severely injured in the Amtrak train derailment near Seattle. Check back here for regular updates on our brave clients, and commentary from our attorneys on railroad law and other developments following this horrific event.

Update Wednesday, May 22, 2019

2017 Amtrak Derailment: Preventable and predictable

During yesterday’s National Transportation Safety Board meeting on causes of the 2017 Amtrak train derailment in DuPont, WA, the agency concluded there were multiple failures in rail car safety, training and signage.

As our attorney David Beninger said in an interview with Q13 Fox‘s Simone del Rosario, “It was preventable and predictable.”

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Beninger also told Northwest News Network’s Tom Banse that the train crews … were set up to fail, not set up to succeed. This was an institutional problem.”

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The train derailment killed three people and injured 65 others during its first-ever passenger route two years ago, and our firm represents 30 of the victims.

Beninger said federal agencies did not perform proper oversight, and that Amtrak is to blame for failing to ensure proper safety.

Update Tuesday, May 21, 2019

NTSB Board Meeting Focuses on 2017 Amtrak Derailment

At its board meeting today, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will share the probable cause of the 2017 Amtrak train derailment near DuPont, Wash. We anticipate the NTSB’s findings will represent a significant milestone in the journey to hold decision-makers accountable for the tragedy, and we’ll be there on behalf of the dozens of victims and family members we represent. Find more information on the NTSB’s website, and watch a live webcast of the meeting here.

Update: January 25, 2018


NTSB Report Finds Amtrak Engineer Missed Speed Limit Signs Before Train Derailment

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Robert Gellatly discusses the NTSB’s latest report finding that the Amtrak engineer missed speed limit and junction signs telling him to slow down before the curve where the train derailed.


“It’s shocking to me how abysmal the training was of this engineer. It confirms one thing, and that is Amtrak has a systematic failure for public safety.”


Watch the segment here.


NTSB Report Finds Lack of Training for Amtrak Train Engineer Before Derailment

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Robert Gellatly discusses the NTSB’s latest report finding a severe lack of training for Amtrak engineers before the inaugural run on this rail line. Amtrak only conducted one Southbound testing run before transporting the public, when its train derailed.


“It was a brazen disregard for public safety. The training was just abysmal. [The engineer] missed speed limit signs, missed milepost signs, missed another sign showing this junction was coming up. The real lesson there is that human error is always going to happen in transportation of all sorts. There has to be a failsafe, there has to be safeguard. Here it’s the positive train control. Amtrak has ducked, dodged and delayed installing the system, and it would have prevented this catastrophe.”


Watch the segment here.




Update: January 12, 2018

Aaron Harris, Passenger Severely Injured in Train Derailment, Files Suit Against Amtrak

Our client Aaron Harris, a passenger on the Amtrak train that derailed, filed a lawsuit today against the rail carrier. His lawsuit comes on the heels of increased safety measures proposed by Amtrak following the derailment, including activating positive train control on the route. Those changes are too late for Harris and other victims of the recent tragedy. Read the full press release here.

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Dori Monson Show: Attorney for Amtrak crash victim, Robert Gellatly of Luvera Law Firm

“This positive train control, as you know, was mandated in 2008 after the catastrophe that we saw in California, and there have been many deaths since that time.

“We’ve seen nothing but foot-dragging and what we view as just an utter disregard for public safety. The NTSB’s preliminary report states that positive train control would have prevented this accident. A train going 78 in a 30 is just inexplicable,” said Robert Gellatly, attorney for Aaron Harris.

Listen to Robert’s interview with Dori Monson of KIRO Radio 97.3 in Seattle.

Passenger severely injured in Amtrak derailment files lawsuit

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KING-5 News

A passenger who was severely injured when a train derailed outside of Dupont, Wash., filed a lawsuit against Amtrak Friday in King County Superior Court.

Aaron Harris, 26, was traveling from his home in Seattle to Portland when the train derailed on a sharp curve and dove off an overpass, killing three passengers and injuring dozens more… Watch the story here.


Update: January 5, 2018

We recently partnered with Clifford Law Offices, a Chicago-based firm that also specializes in personal injury cases, to represent the first plaintiff to file a lawsuit after being severely injured on the roadway when his vehicle was crushed by the Amtrak derailment.

Read the full press release here.

First Lawsuit Filed by Plaintiffs Severely Injured While Driving on Roadway

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“Amtrak should be held fully accountable for what happened here. History shows that it has been involved in so many terrible derailments, most recently in Philadelphia, with deaths and injuries. We know about California, we know about New York, and it is inexcusable for this to have happened again.” – Robert Gellatly Watch the full segment here.




Update: December 22, 2018


The brave parents of our client, Aaron Harris, who was injured in the Amtrak train derailment this week, are speaking out and partnering with Luvera Law Firm’s Robert Gellatly to obtain justice for Aaron and help ensure this tragedy leads to real safety improvements. Below is recent media coverage of their story:

Seattle man faces long recovery after Amtrak derailment, but financial claims could be limited

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By Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times

For four hours on Monday, Bob and Lisa Harris had no idea if their 26-year-old son Aaron was alive or dead. They couple, who live in Eliot, Maine, learned their only child was aboard the Amtrak train that derailed in DuPont... Read the full story here.

Family of critically injured Amtrak passenger wants answers

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By Elisa Hahn, KING-5 News

The parents of one of the most critically injured Amtrak passengers were finally able to talk to their son in the hospital Wednesday night. 26-year-old Aaron Harris had been in a medically-induced come since Monday’s crash. As he slowly recovers, Bob and Lisa Harris of Eliot, Maine, admitted their questions about the accident, and their anger, are mounting… Watch the full story here.

Talk of lawsuits mount against Amtrak over train derailment in DuPont

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By Hana Kim, Q13 News

For many injured in Monday’s Amtrak derailment, the road to recovery will be long. At least seven survivors have hired attorneys and are already considering lawsuits against Amtrak. When it’s all said and done, we could have dozens more… Watch the full story here. 


Update: December 18, 2018

We are following the tragic news of the Amtrak passenger train derailment near Olympia, Wash., this morning. Heartbreakingly, many people were killed when the train derailed from an overpass onto Interstate 5 and blocked all southbound traffic.


Governor Jay Inslee has called a state of emergency in response, after dozens of people were sent to hospitals in Pierce and Thurston counties. There were 78 passengers and five crew members on the train when it derailed.


The Amtrak train No. 501 was on an inaugural run down a new bypass route, which was designed to decrease travel time and make the trip between Seattle and Portland more reliable.




We will update this blog post as the news unfolds. The Seattle Times is also running live updates here and you can read its full news article here. Numerous national media outlets are also reporting on this emergency, including the New York TimesCNN and the Washington Post.




If you need information about friends or family who might have been on the train, Amtrak is telling people to call: 1-800-523-9101. A family reunification center has also been set up at DuPont City Hall.


The City of Lacey has also asked the community to consider donating blood to help victims of the train derailment. St. Peter Hospital in Olympia is accepting the blood donations locally.

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