By Dan Wing and Diana Rocco
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Amtrak made its first legal filings Friday regarding lawsuits stemming from May’s deadly train derailment in Philadelphia with 243 people on board, killing 8. In doing so, the company reaffirmed that they take responsibility for the fatal accident.
The filings in U.S. District Court confirmed what Amtrak president and CEO Joseph Boardman said in a statement two days after train 188 derailed, also again saying that speed was the cause of the accident. Tom Kline represents Blair Berman, who was one of the more than 200 injured passengers.
“And 2nd admitted it has liability, meaning fault, and therefore responsibility for the payment of compensatory damages.”
“Today was an important day in the Amtrak litigation because those victims who filed lawsuits first got the first answer. And the first answer by Amtrak was yes we are responsible, yes the train was speeding, yes we owe damages,” said Kline.
This comes in the first two filed cases against Amtrak.
Kline, representing five victims including the family of Bob Gildersleeve, the eighth victim found in the wreckage more than a day later, says it’s the first of many hurdles.
“We not only want compensation, we want answers, we want the victims’ families to have at the end of the day the real answer as to why this train went off the track at over a hundred miles an hour,” said Kline.
He says that this is an important first step in the litigation, but there’s still a long road ahead.
“While this is an admission of liability to compensate, Amtrak has not admitted liability as to punishment, namely punitive damages. So that still remains an open question.”
In addition, Kline says they will be challenging the $200-million cap put on liability.
“And most important, we seek, in addition to compensation, answers to the question as to how this happened, why it happened, and how it could be prevented in the future.”
Kline says litigation stemming from the crash will likely last years.