Metrolink seeking to shift crash responsibility

Metrolink is seeking to shift financial responsibility for the Chatsworth train crash to other parties it claims acted negligently, according to a recent federal court filing.

In a wrongful death case filed by the parents of Aida Magdaleno, a 19-year-old Cal State Northridge student killed in the Sept. 12 collision, Metrolink claims that any casualties were caused “in whole or in part by the wrongful, negligent, criminal conduct, torturous conduct and/or carelessness of third parties for which [Metrolink] is not liable.”

The third parties are not named. But Metrolink officials have expressed strong concerns about findings by federal investigators that the engineer operating the agency’s train was text messaging shortly before it rammed head-on into a freight train. The engineer worked for Connex Railroad, which provides train crews to Metrolink.

In all, 25 people were killed and 135 were injured, and experts expect damages to test a $200-million federal cap on payouts resulting from commuter rail accidents.

Under Connex’s contract, Metrolink is supposed to be indemnified for all damages arising from the willful misconduct of Connex employees. Officials have stressed that Metrolink rules banned crews from using personal electronic devices while operating trains.


A spokeswoman for Connex, a subsidiary of French-based conglomerate Veolia Transportation, said the firm operates in compliance with its contract, and the National Transportation Safety Board has not finished its investigation of the accident’s cause.

-- Rich Connell