Aerial view of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment in 2017 near DuPont, Wash. Courtesy Wikipedia

Aerial view of the Amtrak Cascades train derailment in 2017 near DuPont, Wash. Courtesy Wikipedia

Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state all named in derailment lawsuit

It was filed on behalf of the family of a teenager who was paralyzed in the 2017 crash.

A new lawsuit has been filed stemming from the 2017 Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailment near DuPont, Wash., that killed three people and injured dozens.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Timothy Brodigan and his parents. Brodigan was then 16 years old and was paralyzed by the crash. It’s the latest in a string of lawsuits that have forced Amtrak to pay millions. However, this lawsuit further names the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit as defendants.

“This gives us the power to dig,” said Todd Gardner, the Renton-based attorney representing the Brodigans.

Gardner said Brodigan has been recovering at a hospital in Denver. He’s still not able to walk without a walker, and his family has split their time between Washington and Colorado.

Naming the state and the two transit agencies as defendants will let the plaintiffs dig further into the relationship between the state and agencies. Gardner hopes this sheds more light on the errors that made the derailment possible on Dec. 18, 2017.

“This was not an act of God… this was negligence,” Gardner said.

Amtrak did not provide comment for this story, and a Sound Transit spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the lawsuit. The Washington State Department of Transportation did not return a request for comment at the time of publication.

Other lawsuits have resulted in large payments, including a 2019 case where the jury awarded $17 million to several plaintiffs, the Seattle Times reported. A separate lawsuit netted $4.5 million. Gardner said he expects to win millions, either in a jury trial or settlement.

The 2017 crash happened on a stretch of rail owned by Sound Transit known as the Point Defiance Bypass. It would have allowed the train, owned by Amtrak, to finish its route 10 minutes faster. The crash occurred on its inaugural passenger run. The state Department of Transportation provides oversight for both companies.

On the route, there were two major curves that required the trains to reduce speed. The curve where the train derailed required trains to slow from 79 mph to 30 mph. When the train hit that curve in 2017, it was going more than 80 mph.

The lawsuit said there were speed limit signs that signaled the reduction two miles before the curve and immediately ahead of it. Trains take at least one mile to fully stop, Gardner said.

The lawsuit also alleges Amtrak didn’t provide properly trained employees to drive the train. The engineer who was driving the train also sued Amtrak earlier this year, claiming he hadn’t received adequate training to safely drive the train.

At the time of the derailment, Sound Transit was in the process of installing a system known as Positive Train Control, which automatically slows down trains when needed. However, it had not been completed at the time of the crash.

The lawsuit alleges that if this system had been active, the derailment likely woudn’t have happened.

In November, Amtrak changed its ticket policy, barring passengers from suing. The company has also been obligated to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars for a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight and injured hundreds.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Attorney Todd Gardner is representing the Brodigan family in a lawsuit against Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state of Washington. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo

Attorney Todd Gardner is representing the Brodigan family in a lawsuit against Amtrak, Sound Transit and the state of Washington. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo

More in News

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.

A suspect in a carjacking hangs almost 60 feet up in a tree after climbing it to avoid police on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 near Mill Creek, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After gunfire, Bothell carjacking suspect climbs a tree

He allegedly passed a trooper at 114 mph on a motorcycle, crashed, stole a car, fled gunshots and climbed 60 feet.

Gov. Jay Inslee during his Oct. 6 news conference. (Screenshot)
Gov. Inslee loosens rules for bars, libraries and movie theaters

New rules come as coronavirus cases are on the rise statewide.

Jay Inslee (left) and Loren Culp
Inslee, Culp will meet in only televised debate Wednesday

The two candidates will answer questions for an hour but they will not be on stage together.

Cecil Lacy Jr. (Family photo)
Court: New trial in case of man who told police ‘Can’t breathe’

Cecil Lacy Jr. of Tulalip died in 2015 while in police custody.

A Sept. 10 satellite image shows smoke from U.S. wildfires blanketing the majority of the West Coast. (European Space Agency)
University of Washington professors talk climate change, U.S.-China relations

Downside for climate policy supporters is it can risk alienating moderate or right-leaning voters.

Sightseers at a Snoqualmie Falls viewpoint adjacent to the Salish Lodge & Spa on Feb. 19, 2020. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
25 COVID cases linked to Salish Lodge

Public Health is urging anyone who visited the lodge to monitor for symptoms or get tested.

The nose of the 500th 787 Dreamliner at the assembly plant in Everett on Sept. 21, 2016. (Kevin Clark / Herald, file)
Report: Boeing will end 787 Dreamliner production in Everett

Boeing declined comment on a Wall Street Journal story saying the passenger jet’s assembly will move to South Carolina.

Car hits hydrant and power pole in Bothell

Luckily there were no injuries

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Surge in consumer spending eases state budget challenges

A jump in tax collections cuts a projected $9 billion shortfall in half, acccording to new forecast.