- Title: Engineer in fatal 2013 New York train crash sues railroad
- Date: 1st December 2016
- Summary: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 1, 2016) (REUTERS) (MUTE) VARIOUS OF LAWSUIT
- Embargoed: 16th December 2016 20:54
- Keywords: Train crash Metropolitan Transportation Authority Metro North accident lawsuit
- Location: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA0035B21BVP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The engineer of a New York train that derailed in 2013, killing four people and injuring 61 others after the engineer fell asleep, has sued the railroad, alleging it was negligent in failing to install an automatic braking system.
William Rockefeller sued on Wednesday (November 30) in federal court in White Plains, New York, asking for $10 million from the Metro-North Commuter Railroad for injuries he suffered, lost wages and pain and suffering.
A representative for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the railroad, said the authority does not comment on pending litigation.
Rockefeller, whose suit was quickly criticized in a local tabloid newspaper, is disabled and does not want to cause pain to the derailment's victims by granting media interviews, his attorney Ira Maurer said in a phone interview.
The derailment on a Sunday morning in December 2013 was likely caused when Rockefeller fell asleep due to an undiagnosed sleep disorder, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a report several months later.
The Manhattan-bound commuter train was traveling more than 50 miles per hour (80 km per hour) faster than the speed limit when it rounded a curve and derailed, the NTSB said.
Rockefeller had severe obstructive sleep apnea that had not been diagnosed, the NTSB said. With such apnea, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, according to the National Institutes of Health. The condition can cause drowsiness.
His disorder was exacerbated by a change in his work schedule, the NTSB said. He had been moved to an early-morning shift about two weeks before the crash.
But the NTSB also faulted the railroad for not having a system that would have automatically applied the brakes to enforce the speed limit, saying the failure was a contributing factor.
Rockefeller's attorney said he acted reasonably with regard to his health before the derailment. The lawsuit faults the railroad with "failing to provide an Alerter in the locomotive control cab."
The lawsuit accuses the railroad of having a problematic culture that "prizes on-time performance at the expense of protecting riders and workers."
The train originated in Poughkeepsie, New York, and was headed south through the New York City borough of the Bronx when it crashed.
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