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Judge Approves 'Historic' $265M Settlement In 2015 Amtrak Derailment

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A federal court judge in Philadelphia has signed off on a $265 million settlement program for all pending claims in connection with the May, 2015 Amtrak Train #188 derailment.

Lawyers involved in the Amtrak 188 litigation believe it's the largest payout of its kind in the US, since the federal damages cap for railway accidents was previously $200 million.

Attorney Robert Mongeluzzi says victims will be compensated now, rather than the 3-5-years he estimates it would take to litigate more than 125 pending cases.

"It will be efficient, for these victims, and most importantly, it will be timely."

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Philadelphia Train Derailment

Attorney Fred Eisenberg says it's historic, because of the speed with which the settlement happened. He anticipates a payout by next summer.

"This is a settlement that from inception to resolution will be one of the quickest in the history of large mass tort catastrophes."

Attorney Thomas Kline says the judge will appoint two Masters who will make recommendations to the court on total compensatory damages to be awarded to individual plaintiffs.

"Every claimant has an opportunity for a full evaluation of all of their damages, including economic, medical bills, wage loss, as well as pain and suffering."

Collectively, three Philadelphia trial attorneys represent 35 passengers, including two of the eight death claims in the derailment.

Investigators looking into the Amtrak 188 derailment concluded that the engineer accelerated the train to 106 miles per hour, instead of slowing to the 50-mile per hour limit on that dangerous curve.

They say he lost his bearings likely because he was distracted by radio talk about a SEPTA train struck by rocks.

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