U.S. Senators propose bill to end Amtrak’s forced arbitration policy

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
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Amtrak’s Empire Builder derailed on Saturday, Sept. 25. (Westbound Amtrak Crescent pictured)
David C. Lester

During the fall of 2019, RT&S reported on the decision by Amtrak to end the right for passengers injured in an Amtrak accident to sue the passenger carrier, and said that any such cases would be subject to forced arbitration. For the three reports RT&S posted on this topic, please check the following links: Report 1, Report 2, and Report 3.

According to reporting by nj.com, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-Washington) are co-sponsoring a bill, along with a dozen other U.S. Senators, to eliminate this policy.

Blumenthal said “Amtrak added a forced arbitration provision to its tickets, and the result is riders unknowingly sign away vital legal rights when they buy a ticket.”

Amtrak counters by saying “Amtrak’s arbitration program provides a much quicker resolution of claims and much faster compensation to injured parties that court litigation, while retaining most important aspects and protections of the civil litigation system.”

Robert Gildersleeve, Jr., was one of the passengers killed in the May 2015 wreck of Amtrak 188 in Philadelphia. Robert’s brother, Charles Gildersleeve, said that if the forced arbitration policy was active at the time of the accident, the family would not have been able to sue Amtrak. Charles Gildersleeve said “We were at least able to hold Amtrak responsible for this tragedy. My hope is this bill will show Amtrak the public demands accountability. They should not hide behind forced arbitration.”

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