Could Someone Sue Amtrak?

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Could Someone Sue Amtrak?
Posted by CMQ_9017 on Friday, May 04, 2018 6:38 PM

I have a general question that could develop many ways and to be clear, I am not planning on suing Amtrak.

Hypothetically speaking, if Amtrak were to heavily retract its services/corridors, could an entity, public or private, bring them to court to block such actions? One would think that if Amtrak violated its charter/mission or whatever its defined raison d'etre by curtailing certain services that there could be legal action to prevent it if there was a case to be be had. 

Simply curious what everyone else thinks. Sorry if this is covered elsewhere.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, May 04, 2018 7:04 PM

It's the USA - anybody can sue anyone for any reason - it's all about the Benjamins!

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Friday, May 04, 2018 8:37 PM

BaltACD

It's the USA - anybody can sue anyone for any reason - it's all about the Benjamins!

 

 

Balt is correct. Whether you have standing to sue, or any case, are separate questions.

Mac

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, May 05, 2018 6:52 AM

It isn't completely unprecedented.  I can recall any number of passenger train discontinuances prior to 1971 that wound up in Federal Court.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by samfp1943 on Saturday, May 05, 2018 8:36 AM

PNWRMNM

 

 
BaltACD

It's the USA - anybody can sue anyone for any reason - it's all about the Benjamins!

 

 

 

 

Balt is correct. Whether you have 'standing' to sue, or any case, are separate questions.

Mac

 

    

Balt says> Standing+ Benjamins=  Lawyers  

    [Lawyers are like Fish: The more bait ya' flash, the bigger the school around your boat] DinnerSigh

  

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Firelock76 on Saturday, May 05, 2018 9:24 AM

Anyone remember a TV show from the 80's called "L.A. Law"?   It was a good show, well-written and well-acted by an ensemble cast, and very entertaining.

So much so that "TV Guide" did an article about it where they asked some big-name lawyers at the time if they watched the show and what they thought about it.

I don't remember the others, but I've never forgotten F. Lee Bailey's comment.  He liked the show a lot, and said it mirrored perfectly what life was like at a big law firm, except for one thing...

"They DON'T show the money-grubbing."

Isn't that something?

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Posted by PJS1 on Saturday, May 05, 2018 6:42 PM
Amtrak can be sued by persons injured or the survivors of those killed in an Amtrak accident.  However, the amount of money that they can collect is limited to $200 million per incident.  This limit was imposed by the U.S. Congress.
 
Amtrak was sued by NARP in 1974 to enjoin the announced discontinuance of certain passenger trains that had previously been operated by the Central of Georgia Railway Co. 
 
NARP brought the action in the District Court of D.C.  It ruled that the respondent not have standing in the court and dismissed the suit.  The D.C. Court of Appeals reversed the District Court and held that the respondent had standing and that the law did not otherwise bar such a suit by a private party who is allegedly aggrieved.  So, off it went to the Supreme Court, which reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded it. 
 
The issue was whether the Amtrak Act can be read to create a private right of action to enforce compliance with its provisions; whether a federal district court has jurisdiction under the terms of the Act to entertain such a suit; and whether the respondent has standing to bring such a suit.
 
It appears – note the weasel word appears; I am not an attorney - the Supreme Court ruled against the right of a private party, i.e. NARP to sue Amtrak or any railroad for failure to comply with the Act.  However, employees or their representatives can sue for relief under certain circumstances if failure to comply with the Act harms them. 
 
The Court noted that the Attorney General can take appropriate legal measures to ensure compliance with the Act, and that no additional private cause of action to enforce compliance with the Act's provisions can properly be inferred. 
 
So, you can sue Amtrak, but you are not likely to prevail.  You would be wasting your money.  There may have been subsequent cases dealing with the same issue, but I did not dig any deeper. 
 
Attached is a link to the article that I found.  Feel free to dig deeper.  You might come to a different conclusion or find an error in my read of the outcome.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/414/453/case.html

 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, May 05, 2018 6:57 PM

PJS1
It appears – note the weasel word appears; I am not an attorney - the Supreme Court ruled against the right of a private party, i.e. NARP to sue Amtrak or any railroad for failure to comply with the Act.  However, employees or their representatives can sue for relief under certain circumstances if failure to comply with the Act harms them. 

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/414/453/case.html

Remember - creative lawyers, weasels that they are, eat weasel words for breakfest!  In the world of hot coffee judgements anything is possible.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Falcon48 on Sunday, May 06, 2018 1:49 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH

It isn't completely unprecedented.  I can recall any number of passenger train discontinuances prior to 1971 that wound up in Federal Court.

 

This subject is covered at some length in a recent RYPN Interchange thread entitled "Is there a basis to sue Amtrak?", which exhausted itself about a week ago. 

With respect to passenger discontinuances before 1971, the law applicable to private railroads providing passsenger service prior to Amtrak was very different than the law applicable to Amtrak since it was created in 1971.  Under the pre-Amtrak Interstate Commerce Act, a railroad had to get regulatory permission to discontinue passenger trains, and the case could end up in court if someone sought judicial review of the regulatory decision (whether the decision was to permit or to deny the discontinuance). The passenger train discontinuance court cases you recall would be judicial review cases like this.  Amtrak is not subject to this kind of regulatory or judicial scheme and does not need to get any regulatory or judicial approval for a service discontinuance.

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Posted by ccltrains on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 6:20 AM

Many years ago before 1971 the B&O petitioned to discontinue a passenger train.  Naturally a lot of people showed up to protest the abandonment.  The B&O lawyer stated that a train on the line in question came witin a station a couple blocks of the court house in plenty time to get to the hearing.  He then asked each protester if they took the train.  All answered in the negative.  B&O received permission to discontinue the train.

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Posted by Falcon48 on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 9:04 PM

ccltrains

Many years ago before 1971 the B&O petitioned to discontinue a passenger train.  Naturally a lot of people showed up to protest the abandonment.  The B&O lawyer stated that a train on the line in question came witin a station a couple blocks of the court house in plenty time to get to the hearing.  He then asked each protester if they took the train.  All answered in the negative.  B&O received permission to discontinue the train.

 

  That, actually, was a very common strategy employed by railroad lawyers in passenger train-off cases, and it usually turned out the way your B&O case did.

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, May 09, 2018 7:02 AM

The ICC could be rather inconsistent in granting permission to discontinue passenger trains.  DPM pointed this out in a lead editorial in a late 1960's issue of TRAINS titled "There must be two ICC's".  He compared the allowance of discontinuance of the reasonably patronized "Humming Bird/Georgian" between Chicago and Evansville (the C&EI portion) with the order of the continued operation of an almost empty MILW 55 and 58 between Chicago and Minneapolis.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul

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