(Cayce, South Carolina – February 5, 2018)
Nationally known railroad safety lawyer Bob Pottroff of Pottroff & Karlin has teamed up with Carl Solomon and filed the first lawsuit on behalf of an injured Amtrak passenger, James Daymon. At the time of the crash, CSX had taken down its signal system and improperly aligned the rail switch with a padlock, resulting in the Amtrak train operating on an incorrect set of tracks. The lawsuit alleges CSX made the “deliberate decision that it will be cheaper to pay compensatory damages for claims resulting from train wrecks and derailments than to install and maintain an appropriate train control system.” Recently, CSX announced quarterly profits of $4.14 billion. As the lawsuit notes, it is “totally unjustifiable for CSX to take annual profits in the billions of dollars and simultaneously refuse to fund Positive Train Control to protect the lives of people who ride on its tracks.”
The failure of the CSX railroad crew to return a manually-operated track switch back to its normal main line position was being looked at as a preliminary cause for Sunday’s collision between Amtrak’s Silver Star and a parked CSX freight train. The collision killed the Amtrak locomotive engineer as well as the conductor at a yard facility in Cayce, SC, near Columbia.
It is readily apparent that the switch the crew used to guide the freight train into a side track was left lined to divert Amtrak’s train #91 onto a collision course with the freight train. Also revealed was the fact that the automatic signaling system was not in use. If CSX would have installed Positive Train Control as was mandated in 2008, this tragedy that injured another 116 passengers and crew members could have been prevented.
Both the Amtrak’s train movements and the failure to reposition the switch to main line usage were responsibilities of CSX Transportation Inc. Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson told the news media that CSX was, indeed, responsible for failing to realign and lock the errant switch. Anderson agreed that an operational PTC would have prevented the catastrophe.
As of last Friday, four of the victims of Sunday’s tragedy were still hospitalized in Palmetto Health hospitals in Columbia, SC, where two were listed as critical and the other two in serious condition.
One of the Amtrak passengers was ordered by railroad officials to stop taking cell phone photos of the wreckage and injuries as well as to refrain from sharing his pictures with anyone. “I thought it was a little strange,” Larkin said of the order, but added “It’s a blessing to be alive. I thought that I was dead.”
911 emergency operators reported calls describing chaotic conditions aboard the train immediately following the crash. “There’s babies with their heads busted wide open, bleeding,” one victim caller reported to 911. Another caller described smoke in the derailed cars, saying that there were “a lot of people hurt.”
If you or your loved ones were involved in the South Carolina Derailment, give Pottroff & Karlin a call at 785-539-4656 or submit an online form for a free case evaluation.