WHITEFISH — Clifford Law Offices of Chicago filed separate lawsuits in federal court Monday on behalf of seven injured passengers in an Amtrak train derailment in Montana that killed three people.
The derailment happened near the town of Joplin on Saturday, September 25, 2021.
The seven passengers are suing Amtrak as well as BNSF alleging negligence, including improper, inadequate, and insufficient rail maintenance and train equipment.
“We have a team of experts that we work with, who conduct an investigation on our behalf at the same time that the NTSB and the federal railroad administration are conducting their investigations," said Clifford Law Offices attorney Kristofer Riddle.
Riddle said Theodore Hastreiter of Whitefish is one of the seven people included in the lawsuit, explaining that Hastreiter suffered severe physical and psychological traumas witnessing fellow passengers die in the rail car he was sitting in.
“This should have never happened, and our investigation is going to uncover exactly why it happened and who’s at fault and the goal of course is to prevent accidents like this from ever occurring again in the future,” said Riddle.
Riddle said Clifford Law Office has experience filing lawsuits against Amtrak, obtaining a $57 million settlement on behalf of their clients after a 2017 Amtrak derailment near Olympia, Washington.
“It’s a unique area of the law and having experience in this, especially such recent experience really gives us a leg up when it comes to representing our clients against this same defendant,” added Riddle.
Riddle said his law office has been contacted by additional passengers on the train and intend to file more lawsuits soon. He noted a preliminary investigation report filed by the NTSB will be issued in roughly 30 days.
An NTSB investigation typically looks not only at what occurred, but why, and proposes recommendations to prevent future similar tragedies.