Settlement in Glendale Metrolink crash

LOS ANGELES The lead attorney representing most of the crash victims said Metrolink has agreed to pay about $30 million to settle their lawsuits.

The settlement involves nearly 90 percent of the injury and wrongful death cases stemming from the crash.

Attorney Jerome Ringler said both sides are continuing to negotiate settlements for the remaining cases before they go to trial in January.

The cases stem from a January 26, 2005 Metrolink crash. It was triggered by Juan Alvarez who drenched his Jeep Cherokee in gasoline and parked it on the tracks.

A Metrolink train plowed into it, derailed, and hit another train traveling in the other direction. 11 people were killed, and about 180 were injured.

In a criminal case, Juan Alvarez was convicted in June 2008 for 11 counts of murder. He was sentenced to 11 life terms in prison.

According to Ringler, the $30 million settlement was in the works after the criminal trial.

Ringler's case was centered on the testimony of the Metrolink engineer who drove the train that crashed into Alvarez's jeep.

"That he put his train in emergency where he claims he did but we know he didn't, and where he claims he was obligated to, no one would've been injured and no one would've been killed," said attorney Jerome Ringler.

For Metrolink's part, the agency had no comment on the settlement.

For Ringler's clients, he said their reactions were all different.

"In certain cases, clients were very pleased," said Ringler. "In other cases clients were reluctant. Ultimately, each client had to make their own decision."

The settlement takes care of most of the Glendale cases; however, Metrolink isn't out of the woods legally just yet.

Last year's deadly Chatsworth crash that killed 25 people has 150 claims filed against the agency. Ringler, who also represents some of the clients for the Chatsworth crash, says it is hard to predict when any of those cases will begin to be resolved.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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