J. Clark Aristei

Washington's NTSB Metrolink Chatsworth Hearing

Los Angeles, California – – March 2, 2009 – – Three Southern California lawyers representing 35 Metrolink Chatsworth victims are in Washington, D.C. to attend the National Transportation Safety Board’s March 3-4 public hearing regarding the September 12, Chatsworth, California, Metrolink rail collision in which 25 people were killed and 135 were injured.

J. Clark Aristei of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is one of three attorneys attending the hearing on behalf of the team of lawyers representing passengers in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. The victims they represent want to see changes so this never happens again.

The attorneys want a firsthand look at the evidence the NTSB will be releasing at the hearing. They especially want to see any evidence presented which might reveal the functioning of the train signals; whether the final signal was red or green. Data downloaded from the data recorders, similar to flight data recorders found on aircraft, will hopefully present helpful evidence to resolve this issue and others and mute the contradictions between eyewitnesses.

The lawyers are also looking forward to seeing the full text of the numerous text messages Engineer Robert Sanchez sent in the minutes leading up to the collision with a Union Pacific freight train. Other issues the lawyers are interested in are the drug test results of the Union Pacific conductor, positive train control, train operating rules, cell phone use, text messaging, occupation of the train cab by non-crew members, and calling out of train signals.

Train disaster attorney, J. Clark Aristei, stated “It’s ironic that commercial airplanes have two pilots in the cockpit, cruise ships have a helmsman, look-out, and navigator, and steam locomotives used to require an engineer, fireman, and brakeman. However, commuter passenger trains only require one person.”

“Train passengers deserve the same safety and redundancy shared by other commercial modes of transportation. We should see if the safety lessons learned in commercial aviation of redundancy and confirmation, sometimes called CRM “crew resource management” are to be applied in the operating compartment of commuter trains.”

The hearing starts at 9 AM at the NTSB Conference Center, 429 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Washington, DC, 20594.

The public may view and download the NTSB docket contents via their web site at www.ntsb.gov, under the “FOIA Reading Room” link on the home page. In addition, docket items that will be used as exhibits during the public hearing will be available on the website under “Public Hearings.”

The latest update on the Metrolink Chatsworth litigation shows that so far at least 18 cases have been consolidated in Los Angeles Superior Court and are pending before Judge Peter D. Lichtman.

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