Lawyers for Amtrak Crash Victims Rip Engineer’s Statements

Robert Mongeluzzi and Tom Kline say the statements of Brandon Bostian are “a bitter pill to swallow” for the victims of the Amtrak 188 derailment.
Robert J. Mongeluzzi (left) and Tom Kline - Amtrak 188 press conference

Robert J. Mongeluzzi (left) and Tom Kline, lawyers for victims of the derailment of Amtrak 188, speak at a press conference today. (Photo | Dan McQuade)

Lawyers for 29 victims of last year’s derailment of Amtrak 188 say Brandon Bostian‘s statements, released today by the National Transportation Safety Board, are an insult to the victims.

“He had absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the events [right after the crash],” Robert Mongeluzzi told reporters today at a press conference. “Now, after months pass after the accident he now has a sudden memory. That, for the victims, is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.”

Mongeluzzi and Tom Kline, who both represent victims in a lawsuit against Amtrak over the crash last year, gave a press conference about an hour after the NTSB released its findings. They zeroed in on Bostian’s statements; one was taken just days after the crash in May, while another was on November of last year.

“Unfortunately, the last memory I have on the way back is approaching and passing the platforms in North Philadelphia,” Bostian said in May. “I remember turning on the bell, and the next thing that I remember is when I came to my senses I was standing up in the locomotive cab after the accident.”

When interviewed in November, Bostian gave a longer, detailed statement. He says he remembered pushing the throttle to speed up from 70 miles per hour to 80 miles per hour, then later attempted to slam on the brakes. He says his last memory is of the train starting to tip over. “I remember holding onto the controls tightly and feeling like, okay well this is it, I’m going over,” he told the NTSB in November. “And so I tried to brace myself.”

At the press conference — held at Mongeluzzi’s law firm, Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky — the lawyers jumped at this contradiction. “He went into that curve knowing what he was doing, and he sure wasn’t going 70 to 80 miles per hour,” Kline said. “That’s what we’ve learned from just scratching the surface.”

Asked if Bostian didn’t remember the events in the immediate aftermath of the derailment due to a concussion or other head injury, the lawyers said they did not believe that was the case. “He was seen right after the crash by Tom’s client… she noted that his demeanor was fine, that he displayed no evidence that he had a concussion, was dazed or that he didn’t know what he was doing,” Mongeluzzi said. “We also know that he refused to answer questions for the police and asked for his lawyer. That is hallmark of somebody whose wits are about him.

“No, we do not believe at all that he had a medical condition which mysteriously somehow allowed memory to seep back into his head. We believe his inconsistent story speaks volumes about his credibility and believability at trial.”

Mongeluzzi’s firm, SMBB, represents 17 victims in the Amtrak crash. Kline & Specter represents 12 victims. All suits have been combined into one case. The max compensation, including compensatory and punitive damages, for all victims is capped at $295 million. Mongeluzzi and Kline say they expect the damages in this lawsuit, if successful, to far exceed that cap.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.