A Metro-North employee who says he was left a quadriplegic after the Dec. 1 train derailment in filed a $100 million law suit against Metro-North Tuesday, said his attorney.
Sam Rivera, 39, a Metro-North HVAC mechanic, spent a month in St. Barnabas Hospital and is now at the Burke Rehabilitation & Research Hospital, said his attorney, Gregory J. Cannata.
Rivera's son, Sam Jr., 14, who was on the train with his dad at the time of the accident, was also injured and "very upset by seeing his father paralyzed," said Cannata, who has also filed a suit on his behalf. The attorney said he also filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Bronx Supreme Court on behalf of a woman who sustained back injuries in the ghastly crash.
Metro-North "has been very supportive" of Rivera since the accident, and constructed a addition to Rivera's Ossining home with a wheelchair accessible bathroom, said Cannata. The Ossining dad "appreciates that and feels that they've stood by him," but the extraordinary nature of his injuries requires extremely costly, 24-hour-a-day care, Cannata said. Nor can Rivera support his family and finance college educations for Sam Jr. and his 2-year-old daughter, he added.
Metro North has received 80 notices of claim and seven lawsuits so far as a result of the derailment, said a spokesman. The agency cannot comment on matters that are under litigation, he said.
The derailment killed four people and injured an estimated 70 people. NTSB documents released this week said that William Rockefeller, the engineer in the wreck, suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnea, possiblyexcarbated by his switching to an early morning shift. Investigators didn't say if the condition had led him to feel "dazed" during the accident, as he had told officials.
(Sheila Anne Feeney)