Amtrak, disabled man, settle lawsuit


Amtrak has settled a federal lawsuit with a disabled man who claimed the passenger rail business refused to accommodate his disability on a ride from Dallas to Texarkana in 2014..

Bobby Cummings filed suit in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas in September 2015 with the help of Texarkana attorney Garnet Norwood. Cummings claims he had no choice but to urinate on himself during an August 2014 trip from Dallas to Texarkana because train attendants denied him a seat in the disability area and refused to help him to a bathroom.

Cummings was able to buy a discounted disability ticket when he traveled on an Amtrak train to Dallas from Texarkana Aug. 5, 2014, the complaint states. But when Cummings tried to arrange the same trip back to Texarkana the following day, he was given a senior citizen ticket instead. When Cummings boarded the train in Dallas and asked to sit downstairs in the section for disabled passengers, he was told he must climb stairs and sit in an upper level of the train.

“Plaintiff tried to explain that he was disabled and could not climb the stairs, offering documentation of his disability,” the lawsuit states.

Cummings claims he experienced “severe pain” in his left knee, which began to swell, when he climbed the stairs.

“Plaintiff needed to use the restroom and requested help from defendant’s employee but was refused. Plaintiff was forced to urinate on himself,” the complaint alleges.

Cummings went to a hospital to seek treatment for his ailing knee once he debarked in Texarkana. The trek up the Amtrak stairs was so stressful to Cummings’ knee, it had to be replaced, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff has suffered damages of medical expenses, pain, suffering, mental anguish, loss of self-esteem, and humiliation in the past and will continue to do so in the future,” the complaint states.

Cummings’ complaint alleges Amtrak is guilty of negligence for failing to issue him a disabled ticket, for forcing him to traverse the stairs, and for failing to help him to the restroom. Cummings’ suit alleges Amtrak employees intentionally failed to accommodate his disability despite being aware of it.

The case was dismissed this week on an order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

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