On July 14, 2011, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge awarded the living and dead victims of 2008's Metrolink commuter train crash a total of $200 million, a limit set by a 1997 federal law for the aggregate of all the passenger's claims in a railroad accident lawsuit. A prior blog entry, SoCal 2008 Metrolink Train Crash Settlement Offered, detailed the eventual settlement.
The judge is quoted as calling his task "judicial triage", and saying that the victims were short-changed by at least $64 million.
Twenty-four people were killed and more than 100 injured in the event caused by a train engineer's distraction while texting.
The wrongful death awards were $4.2 million for survivors of adults killed, and $1.2 million for each child killed.
Attorneys for the plaintiff's had sought damages between $320 million and $350 million.
Clearly, the flat, fixed amounts awarded for wrongful death did not take into account the individual ages and occupations of the deceased.
The insurance companies for the railroads got off lightly in this case.