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December 5, 2016

Engineer in fatal train crash sues railroad for $10 million

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Industrial Safety & Hygiene News – The engineer who fell asleep on the job, just before his train derailed in the Bronx, killing four people, is suing his former employer for $10 million dollars.

More than 70 people were injured in the 2013 crash of a Metro-North train.

No PTC on train

According to news sources, in the suit filed last week in federal court, engineer William Rockefeller accused the railroad of failing to install positive train control (PTC) – a technology that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said would have prevented the accident.

The NTSB investigation also concluded that Rockefeller fell asleep due to undiagnosed sleep apnea and a drastic shift in his work schedule. Rockefeller, who was not charged in the crash, claims that injuries he sustained in the accident have caused him to lose past and future wages.

Although required on rail carriers and commuter rail services, PTC implementation has been slow to occur, mainly due to railroad industry objections to its cost.

NTSB is frustrated

"It has been more than 45 years since the NTSB first recommended the forerunner to PTC,” says the NTSB. “In the meantime, more PTC-preventable collisions and derailments occur, more lives are lost, and more people sustain injuries that change their lives forever. Yet there is still doubt when PTC systems will be implemented nationwide as required by law.

“Each death, each injury, and each accident that PTC could have prvented, testifies to the vital importance of implementing PTC now.”

The suit also accused Metro-North of having a "'deficient safety culture' that prioritizes on-time performance over safety.

Metro-North said it does not comment on pending litigation.