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AirTrain worker’s kin to settle $200M claim

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Kelvin DeBourgh, 23, died during a test run of the new system after he was crushed by weights designed to stimulate a full load of passengers. The crash happened after DeBourgh brought the train up to full speed down a straightaway, then inadvertently continued into a curve at twice the recommended rate, slamming into a concrete wall.After the accident, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the AirTrain, found that the mishap resulted from miscommunication and recommended that Bombardier, the system's builder and DeBourgh's employer, improve its testing and training procedures.The DeBourghs said their son was a customer service representative and did not have the proper training to operate the train for Bombardier. The family filed a $200 million lawsuit in Queens Civil Court in Jamaica, and the AirTrain's debut was delayed for a year as the Port Authority re-evaluated the system.Paul Weitz, the DeBourgh's attorney, said a settlement was reached in November between the family and the AirRail Consortium, a legal entity formed by the Port Authority, Bombardier and several subcontractors. Weitz said he planned to submit the settlement by the end of the week to Surrogate Court in Queens County, a step that is required by law before it becomes official, but was barred from disclosing further details.The DeBourghs declined to comment on the settlement. Weitz did say, however, that the bulk of the money would be put in a fund for DeBourgh's daughter, Avion, who was 3 when the one-year anniversary of the AirTrain was celebrated in December."Nothing will bring back Kelvin," Weitz said. "But if there's a silver lining, it's that his daughter will be provided for for the rest of her life."Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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