Last week, Metrolink filed court papers accepting $200 million liability in the Chatsworth train accident in 2008 that killed 25 people. If the settlement is approved, both Metrolink and Connex Railroad will have no more liability in the deadly accident, the worst in Southern California in recent history.
A federal law caps Metrolink’s liability in the event of an accident at $200 million. Metrolink is merely using that law to protect its back. Unfortunately, for those who were injured in the accident, as well as the families of those who were killed, $200 million will not cover the kind of expenses these people have suffered, and are likely to suffer in the future.
Metrolink says that a $200 million settlement will not only allow plaintiffs to be compensated quicker, but will also avoid the expense and time involved in litigation. It seems that Metrolink has waited this long - about two years since the crash - precisely because it knows that victims are tired of waiting after 24 months, and are more likely to resign themselves to their options.
It's the kind of tactic that California train accident lawyers are familiar with, but considering that this was one of the worst train disasters in recent US history, it's fair to expect some compassion here. We may not have heard the last of Metrolink yet. One legislator from Ventura County has announced his intention to introduce a bill that would remove the $200 million cap because of the seriousness of the accident. For the 130 persons injured in the accident and the families of the 25 who died, it seems absurd that Metrolink will choose to hide behind an archaic federal law Instead of facing up to all of its liability here.