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LAMB AND BLUMENTHAL INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO RESTORE AMTRAK RIDERS’ LEGAL RIGHTS & PROTECTIONS

October 27, 2021
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, was joined by Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Chair Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) and Representative Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) to reintroduce the Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act.   Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate.  The legislation would prohibit Amtrak from requiring forced arbitration agreements from passengers, restoring the customer’s ability to sue the company in U.S. court in the event of safety issues.

“Requiring forced arbitration agreements unfairly limits consumer rights and protections,” said Lamb.  “Congress needs to take action to restore the legal rights of Amtrak passengers and their families.”

“This bill will restore vital legal rights to the travelers who are injured on Amtrak trains and seek just redress,” said Blumenthal.  “Amtrak’s current forced arbitration and class action ban policies are unjust and unfair.  Riders are often unaware they’ve signed away their legal rights with the purchase of a ticket until the worst happens, like so many passengers impacted by the Montana crash discovered first hand.  Legal accountability will be a powerful incentive to safer Amtrak practices.”

This bill would ensure customers can pursue legal remedies in court and give them more options to resolve problems they experience with Amtrak travel,” said Payne, Jr.  “In addition, it would hold Amtrak more accountable for actions and issues that occur during rail travel.”

“Rail travel can reduce emissions, connect underserved communities, and bolster our economy, but these benefits should not come at the cost of passenger rights.  When tragedy strikes, passengers deserve their day in court.  I’m proud to join Representative Lamb, Representative Payne, and Senator Blumenthal in introducing legislation to restore the legal rights and protections of Amtrak riders and their families,” said Strickland.

On January 1, 2019, Amtrak revised its requirement that legal action against the company be resolved through a mandatory arbitration process.  Under this change, with the purchase of an Amtrak ticket, customers waive their right to sue Amtrak in a U.S. court for any reason.  Amtrak’s 2019 forced arbitration agreement applies to all possible claims that could be brought, ranging from ticket disputes, to discrimination, to catastrophic injury and wrongful death.  Additionally, the policy covers passengers whose tickets were bought for them – including minors – and prohibits customers from joining class action suits.  Forced arbitration also discourages customers from filing complaints for smaller violations by instituting high fees and extended timelines.  Airlines are already prohibited from using mandatory forced arbitration.

The Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act is endorsed by Public Citizen, American Association for Justice, National Disability Rights Network, and the National Association of Rail Passengers. 

Visit Lamb’s website to learn more about the Ending Passenger Rail Forced Arbitration Act.

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