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Simi Valley congressman seeks to raise $200-million cap on railroad accident liability

A congressman from Simi Valley introduced a bill in Washington on Thursday that would raise the liability cap in certain railroad accidents from $200 million to $500 million -- a change that would apply retroactively to the Metrolink crash in Chatsworth that killed 25 people and injured 135.

The legislation by Rep. Elton Gallegly, a Republican, would affect defendants in lawsuits that are found to be grossly negligent, which differs from the standard established as part of the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997.

“I met with many of the victims of the crash last month,” Gallegly said. “Through no fault of their own, many now have injuries that will require a lifetime of medical treatment. Others lost a spouse or parent who was their primary means of support. The current cap will not even meet the medical needs of the survivors of one of the worst passenger train accidents in modern history.”

The accident occurred Sept. 12, 2008, when a Metrolink engineer texting on his cellphone ran a red signal, causing a collision with a Union Pacific freight train. Based on the current federal liability cap, Metrolink and its train operating contractor, Connex Railroad, have offered to pay victims of the rail disaster up to the current $200 million cap. If a court approves the offer, Metrolink and Connex would be relieved of any additional liability.

-- Dan Weikel

Comments () | Archives (4)


I was on the train. The light was red. The company and conductor knew that the engineer was using his cell phone while on duty, and they let him drive the train anyway.

Thank you to Congressman Gallegly for listening, caring, and taking action.

Shame on Connex and Veolia.

Human life is priceless and for the families of the 25 people who died that day, while the additional compensation would in no way bring their loved one back, it would help them move on or at least build a better life especially if their deceased was the breadwinner of the family. I really think Cong. Gallegly's proposed legislation will not just help the families of the deceased or the 125 others who may forever need medical treatment for their injuries, it would also tighten up the standards of train operators like Metrolink and force them to keep a tighter leash on the performance and quality of their employees.


No tranposrtation company would allow an engineer to be holding a cell phone let alone use one. The company had strict policies against cell phone use even thoughg the government didn't. Human error happens in every job. This kind of unconstitutional retroactive filing will allow pantiff's attorney's to run wild and our much needed rail system will go away. The victim's absolutely deserve fair compensation for their loss, but risk needs to be managed in an apporpriate manner.


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