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Pennsylvania Law Weekly Simmers v. Amtrak $150,000 Settlement Date of Verdict: June 23, 2006. Court and Case No.: W.D. Pa., No. 08-168J. Judge: Kim Gibson. Type of Action: Railroad accident. Injuries: Laceration of one hand, trauma-induced pulmonary embolism. Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Margaret Ann O’Malley and James O’Malley, Yost & O’Malley, Johnstown, Pa. Defense Counsel: J. Lawson Johnston, Dickie McCamey & Chilcote, Pittsburgh. Comment: On April 18, 2002, plaintiffs Ida and Robert Simmers, a retired couple in their 70s, were passengers of an Amtrak train that was traveling to Virginia. The train derailed while traveling in Crescent City, Fla., resulting in a pileup of 21 train cars. The plaintiffs’ car turned onto its side, and the couple escaped by climbing a makeshift ladder that led to the top of the flipped car, where a bathroom window was opened. Ms. Simmers claimed that she sustained a hand injury. Mr. Simmers claimed that he sustained back and kidney injuries. In all, 142 passengers were injured; four were killed. Ida and Robert Simmers sued Washington, D.C.-based Amtrak and the owner and operator of the railroad track, Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX Transportation Inc. The plaintiffs alleged that CSX Transportation was negligent in its maintenance of the track and that Amtrak was liable for CSX Transportation’s negligence. Plaintiffs’ counsel cited a National Transportation Safety Board study that concluded that poor track maintenance was the cause of the derailment. They contended that CSX Transportation should have ensured that the track was safe and that Amtrak should have ensured that CSX Transportation was properly maintaining the tracks that served Amtrak trains. The defense failed to file a pretrial statement. Ms. Simmers sustained a laceration of one hand and a trauma-induced pulmonary embolism. She undergoes administration of blood-thinning medication, Coumadin. Ms. Simmers’ medical expenses were paid by insurance. She sought recovery of damages for her past and future pain and suffering and emotional distress. Mr. Simmers was struck by falling debris. He sustained a bruise of one kidney and injuries of his back’s soft tissue. He was transported to a local hospital’s emergency room, where he underwent minor treatment. He was subsequently treated by his family doctor, but he claimed that he suffers residual pain that stems from his back. Mr. Simmers’ medical expenses were paid by insurance. He sought recovery of damages for his past and future pain and suffering and emotional distress. The parties agreed to a settlement. Amtrak agreed to pay a total of $150,000; CSX Transportation did not make a contribution. Defense counsel did not respond to a faxed draft of this report and a phone call. – This report appeared in VerdictSearch Pennsylvania, an ALM publication. n

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