Two more victims of last year’s deadly train derailment in DuPont, Washington have filed lawsuits against Amtrak.
The suits say the railway company violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act, leading to a derailment which killed three passengers and injured dozens more.
According to Seattle Pi, the suits were filed by Phillip Riedel, widower of passenger Benjamin C. Gran, and injured train occupant Daniella Fenelon. The complaints were sent to the U.S. District Court of Western Washington.
The two suits join at least 20 other cases.
Some 30 passengers in total have sued Amtrak, claiming the company could have foreseen and prevented the tragedy from ever occurring.
‘Additionally,’ writes SeattlePi.com, ‘a federal judge blocked an attempt by Amtrak Monday to limit the discovery to the plaintiff’s attorneys in the lawsuits against the company.’
Attorney David Beninger says he wants to find out why the train was allowed to hit the tracks without all of its required safety features installed.
One suit filed in July claims that Amtrak knew its equipment was faulty but played down the possibility of danger.
“This should not have happened to me,” said passenger Rudy Wetzel. “I’m 81-years old and I was so proud of myself that I could do these things—I could walk and so forth—and now I’m sort of pushing a cart and I’m not supposed to pick up things more than 20 pounds.”
Wetzel, reports Q13FOX, crawled out of a mangled train car before being rescued by emergency responders.
The octogenarian and his attorney claimed that a whistleblower had ‘said one of the Amtrak locomotives had a problem but didn’t take it out of service or fix the issue before the trip.’
“They have a high, high responsibility to ensure that they transport the public safely and efficiently,” said Wetzel’s attorney, Jim Vucinovich.
Wetzel’s suit says that the train was put into service even after suffering a recorded electrical failure. On top of that, Wetzel claims the rear locomotive wasn’t properly connected to the next car—a mishap that could have affected the train’s ability to brake.
“There was a conscious decision to delink that rear unit and allow the train to proceed as it did and the consequences of that decision is [sic] going to affect everybody,” Vucinovich said.
Though the accident occurred nearly a year ago, the National Transportation has yet to release its findings on the incident. Nevertheless, attorneys for the victims note that the train was exceeding a posted speed limit when it rounded a curve and subsequently derailed onto an interstate highway below.
An NTSB spokesperson told Seattle Pi that investigations typically take between 1 and 2 years to finish.