A federal judge has ordered Metrolink commuter rail and Connex Railroad to deposit with the court $200 million that would compensate victims of a crash in Chatsworth two years ago. Judge George Wu didn’t approve the amount of compensation, but he did set a schedule for the necessary legal proceedings.
Many plaintiffs aren’t satisfied with the $200 million total, but it’s the maximum payout current federal law allows. Paul Kiesel is the attorney coordinating the 76 law firms that represent more than a hundred plaintiffs.
"Realistically, it was Congress who put this limitation in place, and this court is going to be asked, 'Are you going to support Congress’ decision in 1997 to make $200 million dollars the liability cap?'" said Kiesel. "That’s what this court is going to be asked to do. That didn’t happen today. That won’t happen for several months, but the process started today."
Two years ago yesterday, September 12, Metrolink train 111 collided with a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth. The crash killed 25 people and injured more than a hundred. An investigation concluded that the train’s engineer, a Connex employee, had sent text messages on his cell phone moments before the crash.