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Jury awards nearly $17 million to 3 plaintiffs in Amtrak derailment suit

Three people who sued Amtrak following the deadly 2017 derailment were awarded millions.

TACOMA, Wash. — A jury has awarded nearly $17 million to three people who filed a lawsuit after the 2017 deadly Amtrak derailment in DuPont, Washington. 

The train was on its first paid passenger run on a new route from Tacoma to Portland, Oregon, when it plunged onto Interstate 5, killing three people and injuring dozens.

Dale Skyllingstad, Blaine Wilmotte, and Madison Wimotte sued for past and future economic and non-economic damages following the crash. 

The three plaintiffs were awarded the following: 

  • Skyllingstad: $7.75 million
  • B.  Wilmotte: $7 million
  • M. Wilmotte: $2 million

Two were severely injured in the crash. Skyllingstad was a passenger on the train and Blaine Wilmotte was driving on the interstate below when the train derailed. 

Also see | WSDOT to remove train cars like ones in 2017 Amtrak derailment

Skyllingstad suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as a broken pelvis, spinal fracture, cranial fracture and lacerations on his liver and kidney. 

Wilmotte was crushed when a derailed train car from an overpass landed on his truck on Interstate 5, trapping him for 90 minutes in excruciating pain.  He suffered multiple broken bones, lasting trauma, and a diminished capacity to work.

Wilmotte's wife, Madison, sued for loss of consortium because the accident impacted her relationship with her husband. At trial, Madison Wilmotte, who was pregnant at the time of the crash, noted the significant physical toll on her husband as well as the emotional anguish experienced by their family.

On Sept. 3, they filed a civil suit seeking compensation from Amtrak. 

Amtrak has admitted that mistakes were made before the deadly crash occurred. 

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation blamed inadequate training by Amtrak for the crash.

The train was going 78 miles per hour in what was a 30 mile per hour zone, on a curve above I-5 in DuPont.

Also see | Final report details complacency before deadly 2017 Amtrak derailment

On Sept. 11, a mistrial was declared for one of the plaintiffs. 

U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle issued the order Wednesday, saying a doctor testified about an examination of 26-year-old Aaron Harris that was not disclosed to Amtrak before trial. The judge said that was unfair to the company to have to pay.

Harris was a part of the initial Sept. 3 civil suit. 

Settle said a new trial date should be set for Harris' claims. Proceedings in Settle's court continue for two other men who sued Amtrak over the crash.

In June, the National Transportation Safety Board has published its final report on the crash, with the agency's vice chairman blasting what he described as a "Titanic-like complacency" among those charged with ensuring safe train operations.

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