Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Amtrak Train Accident

The family of an Italian man who died during the May 2015 Amtrak train accident in Philadelphia, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the railroad operator. 

Giuseppe Piras was one of eight passengers who died when Amtrak Regional Train 188 derailed on May 12 near Philadelphia. Another 200 were injured in the resulting crash.

The complaint was filed by Lawrence Saia, representing the estate of Piras, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on July 16, marking the first wrongful death lawsuit filed over the accident.

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The lawsuit names the National Passenger Railroad Corporation, more commonly known as Amtrak, and Brian Bostian, the train’s operator, as defendants. Like other injury complaints filed by passengers, the lawsuit alleges that Bostian failed to slow the train down to proper speeds when navigating around a dangerous turn in the tracks. The complaint also claims that Amtrak failed to equip the train with adequate safety technology to prevent such an accident.

The case joins about two dozen other Amtrak derailment lawsuits filed in the federal court system.

Investigations have revealed that the Amtrak train was travelling more than 100 miles per hour when it derailed enroute from Washington, D.C. to New York.

While the accident is still under investigation, a team from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that Bostian hit the emergency brakes as it was entering the turn at 102 m.p.h.; more than double the 50 m.p.h. speed limit. Amtrak has previously indicated that it does not intended to challenge liability in the cases.

That section of the tracks did not have a positive control system used across the region to automatically slow trains down when travelling at excessive speed. Congress has mandated that all railroads in the U.S. have such a system in place by the end of this year.

Some critics say the accident could have been avoided if a second engineer had been present on the train, which would have reduced the risk that the operator would have maintained the excessive speed heading into the dangerous part of the train tracks.

Amtrak has called for all of the lawsuits to be consolidated before one judge for pretrial proceedings, as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation.


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