A woman injured in the fatal 2016 Hoboken train derailment has come to a $475,000 settlement with Metro-North Railroad.
According to attorney Christopher L. Musmanno of Einhorn Harris in Denville, New Jersey, his client Megan McGuinness reached the settlement with Metro-North Commuter Railroad on April 10. The accord, Musmanno said, is the first to come out of the more than 25 cases filed in the wake of the derailment, which left one dead and more than 100 injured.
Musmanno said the settlement is meant to compensate his client for the severe lip laceration and scarring she developed as a result of the collision, but he said the settlement was not “fair” in the sense that it could put McGuinness in the same position she had been prior to the collision.
“To that extent, I don’t think the settlement was fair. No amount of money will take away the scar Megan sees every day in the mirror,” he said. “These poor people, they were all terribly hurt, and this accident could have easily been prevented by proper safety procedures.”
According to McGuinness’ settlement conference memo, she was 24 when the accident occurred on Sept. 29, 2016. The memo said she was a Metro-North ticketed passenger who worked at Pace University. She was intending to make a transfer at Hoboken Station to catch a train into New York City for work, however, when the train came into the station traveling at about 20 to 30 miles per hour, which, McGuinness said in the memo, was more than twice the acceptable limit.
The lights on the train went out, the train derailed and then crashed through an interior wall at the station, the memo said. McGuinness was thrown during the collision, and she ended up with a severe laceration of her right lower lip.
After pushing through an emergency exit window, McGuinness was taken by ambulance to Hoboken University Medical Center, where she underwent surgery to repair the laceration, the memo said. According to the memo, the procedure included more than 100 stitches.
The accident left McGuinness with scarring and an uneven smile, for which she was recommended cosmetic laser treatments, the memo said. She also suffered headaches, and post-traumatic stress disorder from the accident, according to the memo.
The memo also cited the National Transportation Security Board’s investigation, which found that the train was speeding and that the engineer had been suffering from sleep apnea, which can cause fatigue.
The case was filed in Hudson County Court, but settled early in the litigation, before the defendant responded to a summary judgment motion McGuinness recently filed, or asked McGuinness to undergo an independent medical exam.
Musmanno said the case settled so quickly because of the summary judgment motion and a motion he’d filed for extensive discovery.
“They were going to have to provide every document about sleep apnea, and they did not want to take that chance,” he said. “I approached this case extremely proactively.”
Vincent J. Mehnert of Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford represented Metro-North. He declined to comment. Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for Metro-North, also declined to comment.