A Multnomah County jury today awarded $15 million to a woman who was struck by a MAX train and lost her leg, finding that TriMet should have made improvements to make its train station safer for passengers.
Andrea "Amy" Laing did not see an out-of-service train entering the Elmonica station until the last second as she was crossing the tracks in November 2015. She said she tried to stop but could not move out of the way after she looked up and saw the train.
The man driving the train sounded the horn for 2.3 seconds—shy of the required four seconds, Laing's lawyers argued. The lawsuit argued that the platform did not have sufficient physical barriers, crossing gates or flashing light signals to warn pedestrians when a train was approaching.
Laing was struck by the train, which severed her leg. She also suffered broken ribs, facial fractures and severe internal injuries.
Laing's lawyers argued that TriMet was at fault for failing to install safety upgrades to the station that would ensure pedestrians knew when a train was arriving. TriMet argued that Laing, who was wearing a coat with the hood pulled up and had earbuds in, was distracted and not exercising enough caution. Laing disputed listening to loud music in her headphones at trial. Still, Laing did not deny partial liability in the accident.
In its verdict issued Feb. 25, the jury doled out blame. The jurors decided TriMet was responsible for 43 percent of the accident, the driver was responsible for 15 percent and Laing was responsible for 42 percent.
Laing was awarded $5 million in economic damages and $10 million in non-economic damages. That total may change because of Oregon laws that restrict how much money a public agency must pay out in a lawsuit.
The case could still be appealed by either the plaintiff or TriMet.
"TriMet appreciates the work of the jury and thanks the jurors for their service," an agency spokeswoman says. "We will consider possible next steps in this case."