In re Amtrak Train Derailment in Philadelphia, Pa. on May 12, 2015

2016 WL 1359725 (2016)

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In re Amtrak Train Derailment in Philadelphia, Pa. on May 12, 2015

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
2016 WL 1359725 (2016)

Facts

Victims and their families (victims) (plaintiffs) filed multiple lawsuits in various jurisdictions against the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) (defendant) to recover damages for wrongful-death and catastrophic injuries after a train derailment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) for the lawsuits and assigned the MDL to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for pre-trial proceedings. Amtrak admitted liability for compensatory damages, but the victims’ claims were subject to a $295 million liability cap imposed by the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997 and amended by subsequent legislation. Victims Mark and Nicola Tulk filed two actions against Amtrak that were subject to the MDL. After the MDL was established, the Tulks moved for preliminary certification of a mandatory settlement class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(1)(B) to facilitate class-wide settlement discussions between the parties. The Tulks feared that the statutorily capped liability fund was at risk of being diminished by individual victims to the detriment of others. Many other victims objected to class certification, arguing that the case did not meet the requirements for Rule 23(b)(1)(B) and that the MDL was sufficient to manage the litigation. Amtrak deferred to the court and the victims, and the court took up the Tulks’ motion.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Davis, J.)

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