| NEW YORK
NEW YORK The engineer who fell asleep at the
controls of a New York commuter train that derailed in 2013,
killing four people and injuring 61, has sued the railroad,
alleging it was negligent in failing to install an automatic
William Rockefeller filed suit on Wednesday in federal court
in White Plains, New York, asking for $10 million from the
Metro-North Commuter Railroad for injuries he suffered, lost
wages, and pain and suffering.
A representative for the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, which oversees the railroad, said the authority does
not comment on pending litigation.
Rockefeller is disabled and does not want to cause pain to
the derailment's victims by granting media interviews, his
attorney Ira Maurer said in a phone interview.
"It's a very sad, unfortunate accident that never should
have happened," Maurer said. "It's unfortunately standard fare
that people look to pick out a fall guy."
The derailment on a Sunday morning in December 2013 was
likely caused when Rockefeller fell asleep due to a previously
undiagnosed sleep disorder, the U.S. National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) said in a report several months later.
The Manhattan-bound commuter train was traveling more than
50 miles per hour (80 km per hour) faster than the speed limit
when it rounded a curve and derailed in New York City's Bronx
borough, the NTSB said.
Rockefeller had severe obstructive sleep apnea that had not
been diagnosed, the NTSB said. With such apnea, the airway
collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, according to the
National Institutes of Health. The condition can cause
The engineer in a separate crash in New Jersey this
September also had sleep apnea that was previously undiagnosed,
his lawyer said last month. The crash in Hoboken killed one
person and injured more than 100 others.
Rockefeller's disorder was exacerbated by a change in his
work schedule, the NTSB said. He had been moved to an
early-morning shift about two weeks before the crash.
Rockefeller acted reasonably with regard to his health
before the derailment, his attorney said.
"The railroad system was not properly equipped with a system
that was available for decades that could have prevented this,"
The NTSB in 2014 also faulted the railroad for not having a
system that would have automatically applied the brakes.
The train originated in Poughkeepsie, New York, and was
headed south through the New York City borough of the Bronx when