Aerial view of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment in 2017 near DuPont, Wash. Courtesy Wikipedia

Aerial view of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment in 2017 near DuPont, Wash. Courtesy Wikipedia

Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state all named in derailment lawsuit

It was filed on behalf of the family of a teenager who was paralyzed in the 2017 crash.

A new lawsuit has been filed stemming from the 2017 Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailment near DuPont, Wash., that killed three people and injured dozens.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Timothy Brodigan and his parents. Brodigan was then 16 years old and was paralyzed by the crash. It’s the latest in a string of lawsuits that have forced Amtrak to pay millions. However, this lawsuit further names the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit as defendants.

“This gives us the power to dig,” said Todd Gardner, the Renton-based attorney representing the Brodigans.

Gardner said Brodigan has been recovering at a hospital in Denver. He’s still not able to walk without a walker, and his family has split their time between Washington and Colorado.

Naming the state and the two transit agencies as defendants will let the plaintiffs dig further into the relationship between the state and agencies. Gardner hopes this sheds more light on the errors that made the derailment possible on Dec. 18, 2017.

“This was not an act of God… this was negligence,” Gardner said.

Amtrak did not provide comment for this story, and a Sound Transit spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the lawsuit. The Washington State Department of Transportation did not return a request for comment at the time of publication.

Other lawsuits have resulted in large payments, including a 2019 case where the jury awarded $17 million to several plaintiffs, the Seattle Times reported. A separate lawsuit netted $4.5 million. Gardner said he expects to win millions, either in a jury trial or settlement.

The 2017 crash happened on a stretch of rail owned by Sound Transit known as the Point Defiance Bypass. It would have allowed the train, owned by Amtrak, to finish its route 10 minutes faster. The crash occurred on its inaugural passenger run. The state Department of Transportation provides oversight for both companies.

On the route, there were two major curves that required the trains to reduce speed. The curve where the train derailed required trains to slow from 79 mph to 30 mph. When the train hit that curve in 2017, it was going more than 80 mph.

The lawsuit said there were speed limit signs that signaled the reduction two miles before the curve and immediately ahead of it. Trains take at least one mile to fully stop, Gardner said.

The lawsuit also alleges Amtrak didn’t provide properly trained employees to drive the train. The engineer who was driving the train also sued Amtrak earlier this year, claiming he hadn’t received adequate training to safely drive the train.

At the time of the derailment, Sound Transit was in the process of installing a system known as Positive Train Control, which automatically slows down trains when needed. However, it had not been completed at the time of the crash.

The lawsuit alleges that if this system had been active, the derailment likely woudn’t have happened.

In November, Amtrak changed its ticket policy, barring passengers from suing. The company has also been obligated to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars for a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight and injured hundreds.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Attorney Todd Gardner is representing the Brodigan family in a lawsuit against Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state of Washington. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo

Attorney Todd Gardner is representing the Brodigan family in a lawsuit against Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state of Washington. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo

More in News

Screenshot
King County weather: Dec. 3-5

Here is your King County area weather forecast for Dec. 3-5, 2021.… Continue reading

Keith Wagoner
Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

The Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center is located at 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
FEMA to send mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit to Western Washington

The mobile site is set to open Dec. 20 in Federal Way; additional locations to come.

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Washington health officials discuss response to new COVID variant

Things will be handled with Omicron variant similar to the Delta variant.

Aftermath of crash at intersection of NE Woodinville Duvall Road and West Snoqualmie Valley Road (Screenshot from King County Sheriff's Office Facebook account)
Teen walks away from horrible crash in rural East King County

First responders found the overturned and crushed vehicle abandoned near Duvall.

File photo
As new COVID-19 variant looms, vaccination disparities linger in King County

County data shows gaps among age, geography and race.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn
King County Councilmember Dunn will challenge Rep. Kim Schrier for U.S. Congress seat

The current County Councilmember would be following in his late mother’s footsteps

Redmond Mayor Angela Birney (center) cuts the ceremonial ribbon (courtesy of City of Redmond)
Newly renovated Westside Park now open to public

The park includes new amenities such as walking trails, sports courts and a zip line.

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
King County and Port of Seattle to collaborate on waste-to-fuel study

The study is aimed at identifying logistics of developing aviation fuel out of municipal garbage.

Most Read