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Company That Employed Engineer Blamed For Chatsworth Crash Won’t Give Victims More Money

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The company that employed the engineer blamed for the deadly 2008 crash of a Metrolink train in Los Angeles won’t add more money to a $200 million victim’s compensation fund.

Metrolink and French-based Veolia Environment settled lawsuits by setting up the fund for family and survivors of the Chatsworth crash, which killed 24 people and injured nearly 100. A Veolia subsidiary, Connex, employed the engineer who was texting when the commuter train hit a freight train.

The two trains crashed in the Chatsworth section of the San Fernando Valley after the Metrolink train blew a red signal. A CBS2/KCAL9 investigation subsequently found the engineer, Robert Sanchez, was exchanging text messages with teenage train enthusiasts just before the crash.

A judge this month said the money was inadequate but it was all he could approve because of a federal cap on damages. Congress set the liability cap in 1997 to help keep passenger train systems like Amtrak in business when faced with major lawsuits.

Eighteen congressional members then asked Veolia to voluntarily contribute more money.

But the Ventura County Star says Veolia’s CEO refused in a July 19 memo that said Metrolink should be accountable.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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