Over $500K paid by city for zoo train accident - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Over $500K paid by city for zoo train accident

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A train wreck at the Louisville Zoo more than two years ago has turned out to be a costly event for the city.

The derailment of the ride on June 1, 2009 sent 22 people to the hospital.

So far, Louisville Metro government has paid more than $500,000 in settlements to victims. The Metro has spent more than $170,000 in legal costs. Six other lawsuits are pending and the people most seriously hurt have not settled their cases yet.

Attorneys Ron Hillerich and Chad Gardner also sued the manufacturer of the train. Hillerich's most seriously injured client was Cheri McKenzie, a longtime patron of the zoo, who suffered a serious wound to her head when she was riding the train with her daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren that day.

Gardner represents Chris and Amanda Lankford and their two young children. Chris Lankford's legs were crushed when the train flipped on its side.

The lawyer's say the litigation will at least ensure that future passengers have a much safer ride when the train re-opens in the spring.   

"I understand that they're going to have a rear coach conductor and a rear coach brake valve," said Hillerich. "Certainly their training has been enhanced as a result of what has happened  and their maintenance as well."

"People like the train. Kids love the train. My kids love the train," said Gardner. "I'm not opposed to the zoo operating it's trains again. These trains, when they get back on the track, they ought to be the safest trains in America."

The attorneys have mediation coming at the end of this month for the most serious and likely most costly cases for the city.

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