The “push” mode was in use when Juan Manuel Alvarez parked his Jeep Grand Cherokee on the Metrolink tracks near Chevy Chase Drive, close to the Glendale-Los Angeles border on Jan. 26, 2005, causing the three-train wreck that left 11 dead and nearly 200 others injured.
An oncoming southbound Metrolink train hit the SUV, derailed and smashed into a parked Union Pacific train and the northbound Metrolink train No. 901. Survivors of the crash and family members of the deceased brought a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit against Metrolink, and the issue of whether the push-pull mode of operation could be included in the lawsuit needed to be decided before the civil case went to trial.
“The litigation goes forward,” Tyrrell said. “This is just one issue.”
Alvarez is facing separate criminal charges in Los Angeles Superior Court.
But while the plaintiffs can’t argue that the general “push” mode of operation is negligent, they can still argue that the way Metrolink was conducting the pushing was negligent, said Jerome Ringler, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.
“We can argue that they pushed negligently under their own rules,” Ringler said.
Plaintiffs also have other claims of negligence against Metrolink that they could use in trial, Ringler said. For instance, the plaintiffs could argue that the transit agency was negligent in the amount of security and surveillance it provided around the tracks where the derailment took place, he said.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs haven’t yet decided whether they will appeal the recent ruling to the California Supreme Court, Ringler said. When it begins, the trial will take place in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Mascovich predicted that Tuesday’s ruling would be affirmed if the plaintiffs appeal the ruling.
“We don’t have a final decision yet. We think that this decision will stand,” he said.