U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and 15-year-old Mackenzie Souser of Camarillo, CA, will testify Thursday before a House of Representatives committee about how victims are affected by the federal railroad accident cap.
Mackenzie's father died when a Metrolink engineer texting on his cell phone ran a red signal in Chatsworth, CA, and crashed head-on into a freight train on September 12, 2008. Mackenzie was 13 years old.
Twenty-four other people were killed and at least 135 seriously injured in the crash.
A few weeks ago, Veolia Transportation, the French company that employed the engineer, settled for $200 million -- the cap on rail accidents proscribed by federal law. A review by a retired judge estimated lifetime damages for the survivors in the $600 million range. Veolia has enough insurance coverage to pay those damages, but is hiding behind the law.
Some survivors will never work again. Some will never walk again. One young woman was studying to be a doctor. Part of her brain had to be removed. They are being victimized twice by an international company protecting its profits instead of taking care of those it harmed. Veolia knew the engineer had a history of distracted driving and did nothing.
The hearing, Federal Regulatory Overreach in the Railroad Industry: Implementing the Rail Safety Improvement Act, will be conducted by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. It will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 17, in 2167 Rayburn HOB.