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Families of Metrolink crash dead to get average of $4.2 million

July 14, 2011|By The Los Angeles Times

Families of the 24 Metrolink passengers killed in the collision with a freight train three years ago in Chatsworth will receive an average of $4.2 million each in compensation under a distribution formula worked out by a Los Angeles judge and made public Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Peter D. Lichtman makes clear in his 48-page judgment the difficulty he faced in deciding how to divide the $200 million provided by the French parent company of Metrolink's operator at the time of the Sept. 12, 2008, disaster. There are also 98 survivors of the crash sharing in the $200 million.

A federal law passed in 1997 caps a company's liability for a single train accident at $200 million -- a sum that Lichtman said was woefully insufficient to address the valid claims of survivors who will need lifelong medical care and families who lost children and providers. The 122 families and individuals awarded compensation had collectively sought up to $350 million, the judge said.

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His judgment included a graphic account of the accident, based on the detailed recollections told to him by the survivors during three months of daily hearings he held this spring to weigh each claimant's needs. L.A. NOW

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