$10 million verdict for man injured in Amtrak derailment

$10 million verdict for man injured in Amtrak derailment

Cars from an Amtrak train lay spilled onto Interstate 5 below as some train cars remain on the tracks above Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, in DuPont, Wash.

DUPONT, Wash. — A jury has awarded more than $10 million to a man who was seriously injured when an Amtrak train derailed near DuPont in 2017.

Donnell Linton, 47 of Renton, is one of many passengers of Amtrak Cascades 501 who sued Amtrak after the train left the tracks and some of its cars crashed onto the freeway below. Three died and dozens were injured.

Jurors issued the verdict in Linton’s favor Tuesday in in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

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An Amtrak spokesperson declined to comment about the decision.

Linton and his minor son were traveling to Oregon to visit Linton’s newborn grandchild when the train derailed Dec. 18, 2017, one of his attorneys, David Beninger of Luvera Law Firm, told The News Tribune.

Linton suffered fractures to his face, shoulder and ribs. He is still getting treatment, the attorney said. His son, now 14, also suffered some facial fractures.

“He and his son got ejected from the train and landed on the pavement below,” Beninger said. “... His dad basically saved his life by wrapping him up and holding him to his chest as they flew through the air to the pavement below.”

Linton’s verdict is not the first regarding the derailment.

Other cases are pending. Some have settled, Beninger said.

There were 77 passengers and six crew members on board.

“I know that Amtrak has spent more time trying to fight these cases than they have trying to fix their problems,” he added. “... Hopefully this verdict will help encourage positive changes.”

Linton’s lawsuit and others alleged technology that could have stopped the train hadn’t been installed when it derailed. It was the first public run on the Point Defiance Bypass route, a 10-minute faster route from Seattle to Portland.

A National Transportation Safety Board report last year also said Positive Train Control, the technology that slows down trains that are going too fast, should have been installed. It has since been put in place.

The report also said Amtrak should have better trained the engineer, who lost track of where he was on the route and was going more than twice the speed limit.

The NTSB also found Sound Transit should have better addressed the danger of the curve where the derailment happened, that the state Department of Transportation should have made sure the route was safe, and that the Federal Railroad Administration used substandard rail cars.