PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia lawyers who filed lawsuits against Amtrak contend there are “glaring inconsistencies” in the statements the locomotive engineer gave to railroad accident investigators.
Attorney Robert Mongeluzzi says as trial lawyers, they are keen to get information right after an incident, but Brandon Bostian told NTSB investigators very little three days after the accident. Then, six months later Bostian provided a detailed account.
“What did they say before the lawyers get involved, before they have an opportunity to craft and know what the evidence is out there,” said Mongeluzzi.
Attorney Tom Kline says Bostian acknowledged that he “pushed the throttle forward to accelerate from 70 to 80 miles per hour.”
“He admits he was accelerating, toward that curve,” said Kline.
Bostian doesn’t remember anything from that point until after the train was already in the curve at Frankford Junction. Bostian suffered a concussion in the derailment, and his lawyer indicated after the accident Bostian’s memory may improve as he recovered.
The NTSB medical report indicated he was diagnosed with acute head injury and some retrograde amnesia.
Investigators later determined that Amtrak 188 derailed while going 106 miles per hour.
Mongeluzzi says it’s the very job of the operator “to know where they are and where they’re going.”
“Is it his excuse that he didn’t know where he was, and he didn’t know where he was going.”
Their law firms represent 27 personal injury lawsuits and two wrongful death lawsuits against Amtrak.
Congress has capped the amount of money Amtrak can pay out at $295 million, including both compensatory and punitive damages. Amtrak has already stipulated that it will not contest compensatory liability.