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Lawyer For Bronx Derailment Victim Takes Steps Towards Lawsuit

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A lawyer for one of the victims in the Bronx train derailment is taking steps toward a lawsuit, saying that a piece of technology that the NTSB says could have possibly prevented the crash might have prevented his client from suffering injury. NY1's Steve Kastenbaum filed the following report.

Denise Williams, a retired Army Colonel, was on her way to a dentists convention at the Javits Center Sunday morning.

When the train derailed, she was pinned inside one of the cars. Her spine was fractured in several places, and her collarbone was also broken.

On Monday, her sister, Hilda Williams, spoke to NY1.

"She's so swollen, and she, in the midst of all her pain, she reached her hand out for mine, and all I could do was kiss her hand because I was just so happy that she was just alive," Hilda Williams said.

Now, Williams' lawyer is suing both Metro-North and the train engineer. Michael Lamonsoff says that no matter how you look at it, there was negligence involved.

"Trains are not supposed to derail," Lamonsoff said. "Trains are not supposed to be traveling at 82 miles per hour in a 30-mile-per-hour zone.

Lamonsoff says that the derailment could and should have been prevented, and National Transportation Safety Board investigators say that a technology called Positive Train Control might have been able to stop the train.

"PTC is proven technology that can prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments and incursions into work zones," said Earl Weener of the NTSB. "Since this is a derailment involving a high-speed train, it's possible that PTC could have prevented it.

"Had those safety devices been put on this particular train and used by Metro-North in general, maybe this accident might not have occurred," Lamonsoff said/

The federal government is already requiring all freight and commercial railroads in the country to have PTC in place by 2015, but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that it might not be able to meet that deadline.

It says that the technology will cost nearly $1 billion to implement, and hasn't been proven to work on a system as large and complex as the MTA's commuter lines.

Williams underwent surgery to stabilize her spine with a steel rod. Her family says it's a miracle that she wasn't paralyzed. Her attorney is seeking unspecified damages.

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