33-year-old Kathryn Varnum was one of the passengers on the Amtrak train bound for New York from Washington that derailed on May 12, 2015. That accident caused her to suffer several fractures to her pelvis, hip, and back, which have cumulatively required Varnum to undergo multiple surgeries.
She and her husband, 34-year-old Declan MacFarland, who was seated beside her on that train ride, sued Amtrak and Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian in June for “negligence and reckless conduct.” This is just one of the dozens of lawsuits filed against Amtrak and Bostian since the incident that left 8 people dead and more than 200 injured.
However, the victims of this tragic accident are nervous about a liability cap that could leave them facing serious out of pocket expenses. When Amtrak’s operations were reauthorized in 1997, Congress set the limit of liability damages against the company at $200 million for any single train accident. “Victims of large railroad crashes will be among those who have to bear the cost of keeping Amtrak up and running,” according to noted Harvard University professor and tort law expert John Goldberg.