Judge Says Amtrak Liable for 2017 Cascades Derailment

A judge has ruled that Amtrak is strictly liable for a December 2017 derailment of a Cascades Service train in DuPont, Washington that left three dead.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Amtrak engineer Steven Brown, who was at the controls at the time that Cascades No. 501 derailed.

The National Transportation Safety Board later ruled that the train was exceeding the posted speed limit on a curve when it derailed.

Brown claimed in his suit that he was not properly trained and that a positive train control system could have prevented the derailment.

The ruling by Superior Court Judge Karena Kirkendall means that when Brown’s suit goes to trial later this year the only issue to be decided will be that of damages.

Amtrak had argued in court that Brown’s negligence caused the derailment.

But Judge Kirkendall granted Brown’s motion for partial summary judgment, which asked the judge to find Amtrak “strictly liable” and that the only defense to Amtrak’s absolute liability would be to prove that Brown “was the sole cause of his own injuries.”

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