PHILADELPHIA, PA/December 19, 2017 (STL.News) – Two of America’s foremost legal authorities on railroad catastrophes, Thomas R. Kline, Esq. and Robert J. Mongeluzzi, Esq., sharply criticized Amtrak and Congress after the National Transportation Safety Board(NTSB) last night confirmed that Amtrak Train #501 was operating at nearly three times the speed limit when it derailed.
Mr. Mongeluzzi, of Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett, & Bendesky, P.C., and Mr. Kline, of Kline & Specter PC, said they were not surprised to hear NTSB officials confirm that the train was traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph speed-restricted curve, nor that the Amtrak equipment was not equipped with Positive Train Control (PTC) that is designed to override the engineer and ensure safe operation. “We saw this happen on Amtrak Train #188 in Philadelphia in 2015, when the train was going more than 100 mph in a 50 mph zone, with no PTC to save lives,” said Mr. Mongeluzzi. “Clearly, despite all the post-incident cries for safer trains, more loved ones on their morning commute have now been killed in this foreseeable and preventable tragedy in Washington. The federal government needs to stop postponing the date for full PTC implementation, and compel prompt compliance. ”
Mr. Kline, noting that PTC technology has been around since the 1970s, but its implementation delayed by Congress over the past decade, stated, “Delay has become synonymous with deaths. It is inexcusable that this new Amtrak line – on its first day in service – was operating without PTC. How can Amtrak explain not only the train’s inexplicable speeding, but also its catastrophic safety failure to the family member of any of the victims? ”
Mr. Mongeluzzi and Mr. Kline both served on the Plaintiffs Management Committee (PMC) in Federal court resulting from the fatal 2015 derailment of Amtrak #188 in Philadelphia. They represented a combined 34 passengers in the litigation that resulted in a landmark $265 million settlement. The attorneys also represent victims in the 2016 fatal derailment of Amtrak #89, in Chester, Pennsylvania, and victims of the fatal New Jersey Transit train crash in Hoboken Station last year. Mr. Kline and Mr. Mongeluzzi have long advocated for railroad safety reforms such as mandatory Positive Train Control (PTC), onboard-inward facing cab cameras and expanded medical testing for train Amtrak personnel, including engineers.