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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

Comments (11)
  1. Astonished says:

    Perhaps all three companies should be held liable. This way there would be adequate monies to go around.

  2. ART says:

    Come on these people are just looking for free money. Is money going to take away the pain of lost family members? If so then they did not care about their loved ones.

    They just want money so they do not have to work.

    1. GC1008 says:

      Some of those injured people want to work and will never work again. Others lost the breadwinner in their family and they may lose homes & not get educations they would have gotten. The medical expenses alone have destroyed lives. And for some the physical pain will never end. And it’s not all about loss. It’s also about accountabilty. Connex management knew Robert was irresponsible and they’d known it a long time. You have no business judging these people, their love for those lost or results of a crash that could have been avoided if Connex managment had done something about Robert earlier. And the tragic thing is, when they did fire an incompetent, irresponsible conductor, that conductor was hired by AmTrak….

  3. Duh! says:

    Why should the company give more money?
    It wasn’t the company that was texting while operating the train.

    They should go after the engineer’s family and the people he was texting.

  4. Mary says:

    I don’t think the company should have to give more money either. Money will not take away the pain the family is enduring. I lost my husband when a big rig pulled out in front of him on the 10 freeway and I never sued the trucker or the company. I lost my husband and I couldn’t see destroying the life of a man who probably made a terrible mistake. My husband is dead – I can never bring him back – so why destroy another life just because I can. I understand the driver was texting and driving, but if we are all honest with ourselves, 85% of the people here in Los Angeles still text and talk on their cell phones while driving. If you don’t believe me – next time you are driving on the 5 freeway – look in each car and count how many are still doing it. You’ll be amazed. There is a federal cap on damages, decided upon in 1997 to help keep passenger train systems like Amtrak in business when faced with major lawsuits. That federal cap was put in place to protect businesses – so don’t ask for more. It was reported that all of you got a lot of money for your pain and suffering – money WELL deserved – but stop there – don’t kill yourself over trying to get more.

    1. GC1008 says:

      Mary – there is no excuse for what Robert kept doing. And there is no excuse for companies who cover up or don’t deal with employees who are corrupt, or dangerous, but have a union backing them. I’m sorry about your husband, but this is repetative behavior on the part of businesses that put lives in danger all the time because they aren’t dealing with problems in their companies. Mary you husband is dead. He’s not living with a lifelong disability, endless medical bills, endless pain, discrimination, families dissolving and the countless results of a man’s arrogant, irresponsible behavior. And Robert was arrogant and he was careless and he wouldn’t have given a Damn about you or your husband.

    2. BD McGee says:

      So you’re single then? Let’s meet for a drink.

  5. Dr. Dork says:


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