Victim files lawsuit after train derailment - WNEM TV 5

Victim files lawsuit after train derailment

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The first lawsuit has been filed by the family of a victim seriously injured in a train derailment last week.

More than 70 people were injured when a Metro-North train derailed near the Fairfield Train Station and then slammed into a train traveling in the opposite direction May 17.

Elizabeth Sorensen, 65, of Mystic suffered serious leg, arm and pelvis injuries and remains in critical condition at a Bridgeport Hospital, according to her attorney, Joel T. Faxon.

Sorensen sustained a brain trauma after "she was thrown around the interior of the train" during the derailment, her attorney said. She has had multiple surgeries since the crash.

"We've filed the case in Federal Court to permit access to witnesses, information and obtain subpoena power," said Faxon in a statement Friday. "Public transportation has to provide the highest level of safety to passengers. Given what happened here that level of safety was clearly not delivered."

Investigators continue to look for the cause of the derailment. They are focusing on determining whether a rail broke before or during the crash.

Federal investigators have sent parts of the track they are focusing on down to Washington so they can take a closer look. The full investigation could take months

"Metro-North has an obligation to provide a safe mode of transportation to every person who gets on that train," said Faxon. "In this case, there was a derailment, which shouldn't happen, and you have a collision which shouldn't have"

Faxon said he has hired investigators to look into the derailment. They started looking at safety records and is focusing on whether Metro-North or its parent company had any indication that there was issues with the tracks or equipment.

"The (National Transportation Safety Board) has stated that cracks developed in a joint bar connecting tracks shortly before this calamity," Faxon said. "We are going to scrutinize the track repair using our own metallurgists."

The lawsuit for Elizabeth Sorensen, who works for a company that helps governments tackle problems surrounding AIDS and malaria, is being brought through her husband Peter Sorensen. Her family is "focusing their time on her necessary care."

"We will make sure all the facts are uncovered and revealed and appropriate changes are made to guarantee the safety of the thousands of Connecticut citizens that ride the New Haven line every day," said Michael A. Stratton. "This crash is absolute proof that our railways need to be modernized. This century old section of track has been the site of several mishaps. For the billions of dollars that the state of Connecticut has received and the federal government has spent on the rail system it is astonishing that collisions like this still happen. Where is all the money going? Certainly not to safety improvements."

Eyewitness News talked to another passenger who suffered a broken back in the crash earlier this week and he too plans to seek damages after he focuses on recovery.

An attorney for some of the Metro-North engineers and conductors on the train is first filing a claim with the train companies insurance carrier.

Faxon said he just wants to make sure the company is doing everything it can to keep passengers safe.

"There are many different areas where safety improvements can be made and should be made because the number of people who ride these rails," he said.

The Metro-North New Haven Line returned to its normal schedule Wednesday, which was five days after the train derailment.

Calls to Metro-North were not immediately returned. 

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