One think that the lawyers will be stating this in the court room. I personally understand the responsibility of the engineer, and how projects are completed. But my understand and what is going to be said in a court room are not the same.
Negligence and carelessness of Amtrak to not have Postive Train Control installed on that section of track.
So, since the feds allowed the installation of PTC to get pushed back (even though Amtrak was still working on it,) would they not share the negligence? Maybe we should take a page from Fulham's book and fire the person that hired the lone person to exceed the MAS on the curve and derail.
You really think the lawyer is not going to bring up a safety device? Or a lack of a safety device as negligence?
A few year back we had a safety device that one driver found annoying. So he wrap a sock around it to muffle the alarms. Rear ended a car. State Troopers saw the sock and off to jail the driver went. Did not matter to them what else happen. He disabled a safety device. He was guilty.
Negligence and carelessness is the claim. By not have a safety device at that location that would prevent overspeed.(If not PTC or the PRR system) Due to the lack of money or "we did not think we needed it there." Your going to prove your negligence and carelessness to the safety of the staff and passengers who ride your trains.
The reality of the situation is you're probably right. Speaking from an operational perspective and regulatory perspective, PTC is not currently considered a safety device...which is why it currently isn't mandatory. I also know that as previously noted, PTC and Cab Signal drops are not the end all be all. One only need to look at LIRR and NJT for verification. However, the average juror wouldn't be phased by the technical aspects and sometimes, all you need is a label.
Therefore, the ultimate question would be "is there something that Amtrak could have done," and the obvious answer is the cab signal drop...and it wasn't in place. So, you're probably right when you say a lawyer would easily make the case, particularly if they point to other locations that DO have cab signal drops. This is probably why Amtrak settled as quickly as they did.