Trial Attorneys Laud Historic Judicial Approach That Led To $265 Million Settlement In Amtrak Fatal Derailment Case

PHILADELPHIA, July 31, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trial attorneys Thomas R. Kline, Robert J.  Mongeluzzi and Benedict Morelli today reacted to today's landmark Memorandum of Judge Legrome D. Davis, Jr., USDC Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in the $265 Million settlement reached in the Amtrak Train No. 188 derailment Federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL No. 2654). They each represented victims in the 2015 derailment and served on the Plaintiffs Management Committee (PMC) in the litigation that recently concluded with the distribution of proceeds.

The Memorandum of U.S. District Court Judge Davis states in part, "In sum, the Settlement Program was the most fair and reasonable option—presenting the greatest likelihood of a successful recovery for the greatest number of claimants." He noted that, "The Program created a Fund that provides the best possible recovery—that is, the present value of the maximum statutory limit of Amtrak's liability, $265 million, which has been equitably and expeditiously distributed to all claimants."  

Referring to the challenge of reaching a fair settlement amount given the statutory restraint of the Federal damages cap, the Judge wrote, "If Plaintiffs were successful at trial, it is fairly certain that they would be entitled to substantial compensatory damages awards, likely aggregating more than $500 million. However, it is equally apparent that the litigation risks inherent in pressing forward with separate trials could eliminate any monetary recovery for some, if not many claimants."

He added, "In sum, the Settlement Program was the most fair and reasonable option—presenting the greatest likelihood of a successful recovery for the greatest number of claimants. "

Thomas R. Kline (K&S), stated in reaction to the Memorandum, "Judge Davis describes an extraordinary achievement in MDL history, which will serve as the standard for the management of MDL and mass disaster litigation in the future by marshaling under his brilliant leadership all of the necessary components (including the tireless effort's by himself, and Masters William Manfredi and Diane Welsh) which resulted in a equitable distribution of a limited fund—obtaining the most justice possible for the many who were so terribly injured and families who lost love ones."

Robert J. Mongeluzzi (SMBB) said, "In addition to the extraordinary leadership of Judge Davis, The Plaintiffs Management Committer, led by Tom Kline and Chip Becker, steadfastly and resiliently forged a consensus among themselves and the plaintiffs bar, working with the Court to establish a structure for a fair and equitable resolution which could not have been accomplished without a large reservoir of experience and dedication to the cause of justice—all done for the common good with no common benefit compensation."  

And Mr. Morelli added, "The record speed and just resolution of this matter for those victims like my client, Chef Eli Kulp, is a remarkable achievement by the Court and the lawyers who worked tirelessly to reach this end. While there is no amount of money that can undo the physical and emotional harm the victims endured, these settlements will hopefully offer some degree of closure and justice."

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SOURCE Kline & Specter