Two newlyweds who were injured in the crash of Amtrak Train 188 on May 12 are the latest to sue the rail line and engineer Brandon Bostian in federal district court in Philadelphia, alleging that reckless operation of the train caused its derailment.
Declan MacFarland, 34, and Kathryn Varnum, 33, were on their way to New York from Varnum's parents' home in northern Virginia when the train derailed. MacFarland had scheduled a job interview for the following day, and Varnum, an employee of a public relations firm, had intended to confer with a client.
Varnum suffered multiple hip and spine fractures, and MacFarland sustained a concussion and other injuries, said their lawyer, Frederic Eisenberg. They were traveling in the third passenger car of the train, which landed on its side.
"If Amtrak had chosen to do the right thing, to take the proper safety precautions, then this tragedy could have been prevented," Eisenberg said. "We are going to do everything in our power to see that Amtrak is held accountable for its negligent and reckless actions."
Eight people were killed in the derailment and more than 200 injured.
At least a half-dozen lawsuits have been filed in the case, and many more are expected.
The crash occurred on a curve at Frankford Junction, a few miles north of 30th Street Station. Although the posted speed limit was 50 miles per hour, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the train was traveling at 102 miles per hour when it entered the curve.
The lawsuit accuses Bostian of operating the train recklessly. It says Amtrak was negligent for failing to install systems that would have slowed the train automatically. It is not yet clear why Bostian, who has declined to speak with Philadelphia police, was running the train at such a high rate of speed. The NTSB said last week that its own investigation shows Bostian was not on his cellphone at the time of the crash.
MacFarland, who works in advertising, is a native of Ireland. Varnum is a graduate of the University of Virginia. Her father is a retired FBI agent, Michael Varnum, who spent part of his career in Philadelphia. The couple married last year in London.