First lawsuit filed over Blue Line derailment at O'Hare - FOX 32 News Chicago

First lawsuits filed over Blue Line derailment at O'Hare

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(Photo by Panda Osito) (Photo by Panda Osito)
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Three women who work at O'Hare International Airport and were hurt when a Blue Line train derailed early Monday filed separate lawsuits Tuesday against the CTA, and on Wednesday, a judge granted a motion to preserve evidence in the case.

Thirty-two people were hurt when the eight-car train derailed about 2:50 a.m., authorities said previously.

On Wednesday, the law firm Corboy & Demetrio announced that a judge granted an emergency motion for protective order to preserve evidence of the derailment. That includes video of the crash, the employment file of the train's operator, maintenance records of train cars, dispatch tapes, the train's event recorder, and all data regarding the speed and operation of the braking system, a statement from the firm said.

The first suit was filed by Niakesha Thomas, a single mother of a young child, who was headed to her overnight shift at Hudson News at the airport when she was hurt in the crash, according to Tom Ciesielka, spokesman for the Latherow Law Office.

The 22-year-old is unable to walk, and cannot work because she is required to stand at her job, he said.

"At this point, operator error is being blamed, but regardless whether the accident was due to human or mechanical failure, the CTA must be held accountable for the safety of its passengers," her attorney, Jerry Latherow, said in the statement.

The second suit was filed by Dalila Jefferson, a 23-year-old airport security officer, who was riding in the first car of the train when it derailed and climbed an escalator in the terminal, according to a statement from the Corboy & Demetrio law firm.

"Dalila was about to get off the train in the first car when she was catapulted forward as the car went up the escalator. She had to be extracted from the car, and is experiencing severe pain from a broken foot, as well as neck and back injuries," her attorney, Matthew Jenkins, said in the statement.

"It's clear there was a failure on multiple levels. We hope this lawsuit helps bring answers as to how this could happen and to prevent it from happening again," Jenkins said.

A third suit was filed by Lakesha Weaver, an employee for AirServ, her attorney Donald Jaburek said. AirServ handles cargo, ground transportation and other passenger services at O'Hare, it's website said.

Weaver was also headed to work at the time of the crash, and was hit in both knees, Jaburek said. She is out of the hospital but continues to seek medical attention because she had surgery on one knee a year and a half ago, he said.

A CTA spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation Tuesday.

All three suits accuse the CTA of negligence and seek unspecified damages. Thomas' suit also claims negligent infliction of emotional distress.

On Monday, Robert Kelly, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local, said there were indications the female operator of the train "may have dozed off."

National Transportation Safety Board officials had scheduled an interview with the operator for Tuesday afternoon, the Sun-Times previously reported.

In the meantime, investigators will be studying video from 41 station cameras and from the front end of the train, according to the Sun-Times. They also will examine such things as the mechanical system and track condition as they try to piece together the crash.

Blue Line service is still suspended between the O'Hare and Rosemont stations. Shuttle buses are in place for passengers as the investigation continues.

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