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The sound of the crash was deafening only to be replaced by complete, total and eerie silence. Almost all the passengers that remained conscious through the ordeal and even those that were briefly unconscious speak of this silence as being surreal. Many thought they simply passed away and were experiencing death. This silence was short-lived, quickly followed by cries for help, screams of pain, wailing, moaning, and sobbing. Severed limbs were strewn all about and blood pooled everywhere.

This tragic accident was due to gross negligence – a Metrolink engineer ran a red light while sending text messages on his cell phone; the passengers were completely innocent. Twenty-five people were killed and more than 100 injured when a commuter train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train in the Chatsworth section of Los Angeles. That was almost three years ago.

Victims recently learned they will only receive $12,000 – $9 million; approximately one-third to one-half actual damages because of a $200 million damages cap; a bailout for the rail industry when it faces major lawsuits. Although awards in totality equal maximum liability, it is far less than the monetary requests of $320 – $350 million; a potential verdict had each case been tried separately. How would you like to be told that although your medical bills will exceed $1 million, you will only be awarded $250, 000? Due to ridiculous damages caps, the Court was forced to “rob Peter to pay Paul.” What happens to these victims now? I don’t think I need to tell you who will pay.

This case is yet another example of the injustice of arbitrary caps. The judge estimated proper compensation for each family would require an additional $64 million. The defendant refused; under the cap they have that right. What about the rights of the innocent victims and their families? Do you want to keep bailing out businesses, continuously subsidizing negligent behavior? Damage caps do nothing but protect negligent conduct at the expense of innocent victims and, of course, the taxpayers.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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