NJ Transit faces mounting lawsuits over 2016 Hoboken train crash
A witness recorded this raw video immediately following the fatal 2016 train crash in Hoboken Terminal.
NJ Transit’s legal troubles from the 2016 Hoboken Terminal train crash are mounting.
Since early September, the Hudson County judge overseeing 35 lawsuits related to the crash has added 10 more to the consolidated case, Bhalla vs NJ Transit. Court records show another 12 lawsuits that have been filed and are pending inclusion in the case.
Judge Mary Costello ordered the cases to be consolidated under Bhalla in August.
One person was killed and more than 100 others were injured when a commuter train from Spring Valley, New York, sped into the terminal and crashed through a bumping post on Sept. 29, 2016. The survivors are seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages.
Among the new plaintiffs: Malick Gassma of Roselle Park, a security guard at Hoboken Terminal who was injured while assisting passengers who were injured on the train.
Another: Thomas Dougan of Fair Lawn, an NJ Transit brakeman who was on Train 1614. Dougan had told the National Transportation Safety Board in a post-accident interview that he thought the train's engineer, Thomas Gallagher, had been killed.
Dougan told investigators that he found Gallagher in the engineer's compartment, unconscious but alive. He said he believed Gallagher had suffered a heart attack.
Instead, the NTSB concluded that Gallagher suffered from severe obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that can cause drowsiness and fatigue. The NTSB also found that NJ Transit had failed to properly screen Gallagher for the condition in a routine physical exam.
Gallagher, of Morris Plains, who was eventually treated for the condition, is no longer an NJ Transit employee. Most of the Hoboken crash lawsuits name him as a defendant.
Unlike many of the first 35 cases, the 10 newest ones did not cite the plaintiffs' specific injuries. Commonly cited injuries in the other cases included fractures, cuts, concussions, back, neck and facial injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The lawsuits fault NJ Transit for failing to screen and treat Gallagher's sleep apnea. They also cite the lack of a speed-control system that could have automatically braked the train before it reached the end of the track.
NJ Transit is required to install such a system, called positive train control, by Dec. 31. The agency has struggled to meet the requirement. Installation of positive train control has had a disruptive effect on riders, as NJ Transit has canceled trains on most of its rail network to accommodate the work.
Last month, it halted all train service from Philadelphia to Atlantic City through January.