Aerial view of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment in 2017 near DuPont, Wash. Courtesy Wikipedia

Aerial view of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment in 2017 near DuPont, Wash. Courtesy Wikipedia

Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state all named in derailment lawsuit

It was filed on behalf of the family of a teenager who was paralyzed in the 2017 crash.

A new lawsuit has been filed stemming from the 2017 Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailment near DuPont, Wash., that killed three people and injured dozens.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Timothy Brodigan and his parents. Brodigan was then 16 years old and was paralyzed by the crash. It’s the latest in a string of lawsuits that have forced Amtrak to pay millions. However, this lawsuit further names the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit as defendants.

“This gives us the power to dig,” said Todd Gardner, the Renton-based attorney representing the Brodigans.

Gardner said Brodigan has been recovering at a hospital in Denver. He’s still not able to walk without a walker, and his family has split their time between Washington and Colorado.

Naming the state and the two transit agencies as defendants will let the plaintiffs dig further into the relationship between the state and agencies. Gardner hopes this sheds more light on the errors that made the derailment possible on Dec. 18, 2017.

“This was not an act of God… this was negligence,” Gardner said.

Amtrak did not provide comment for this story, and a Sound Transit spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the lawsuit. The Washington State Department of Transportation did not return a request for comment at the time of publication.

Other lawsuits have resulted in large payments, including a 2019 case where the jury awarded $17 million to several plaintiffs, the Seattle Times reported. A separate lawsuit netted $4.5 million. Gardner said he expects to win millions, either in a jury trial or settlement.

The 2017 crash happened on a stretch of rail owned by Sound Transit known as the Point Defiance Bypass. It would have allowed the train, owned by Amtrak, to finish its route 10 minutes faster. The crash occurred on its inaugural passenger run. The state Department of Transportation provides oversight for both companies.

On the route, there were two major curves that required the trains to reduce speed. The curve where the train derailed required trains to slow from 79 mph to 30 mph. When the train hit that curve in 2017, it was going more than 80 mph.

The lawsuit said there were speed limit signs that signaled the reduction two miles before the curve and immediately ahead of it. Trains take at least one mile to fully stop, Gardner said.

The lawsuit also alleges Amtrak didn’t provide properly trained employees to drive the train. The engineer who was driving the train also sued Amtrak earlier this year, claiming he hadn’t received adequate training to safely drive the train.

At the time of the derailment, Sound Transit was in the process of installing a system known as Positive Train Control, which automatically slows down trains when needed. However, it had not been completed at the time of the crash.

The lawsuit alleges that if this system had been active, the derailment likely woudn’t have happened.

In November, Amtrak changed its ticket policy, barring passengers from suing. The company has also been obligated to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars for a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight and injured hundreds.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

Attorney Todd Gardner is representing the Brodigan family in a lawsuit against Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state of Washington. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo

Attorney Todd Gardner is representing the Brodigan family in a lawsuit against Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state of Washington. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo

More in News & Comment

Courtesy of governor.wa.gov
Inslee extends pause on counties advancing phases to July 28

A spike in cases could cause hospitalizations and deaths to rise soon.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

GoFundMe screenshot
No suspects yet in West Seattle suitcase homicides

Families grieve deaths of Jessica Lewis of Federal Way and Austin Wenner of Kent.

Elected or appointed? King County weighs sheriff options

Voters could be asked to decide in November.

Courtesy photo
Bothell police officer dies in shootout

Update: Officer identified by police department

The Red Lion Inn at 1 South Grady Way in Renton is being used as temporary site to relocate individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo.
Renton battles King County over temporary shelter at Red Lion Hotel

County officials believe emergency health order will supersede city’s move.

A train route that would shuttle people between Eastern and Western Washington could tie in with the proposed ultra-high-speed rail between B.C. and Portland. Photo courtesy RobertStafford/Pixabay.com
State receives King County to Spokane rail study

It would take about eight and a half hours to reach the Inland Empire from Puget Sound.

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo
Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in King County

Gov. Jay Inslee has revised rules to allow self-serve food areas in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.

Most Read