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Westchester Man Paralyzed In Train Derailment Suing Metro-North For $100M

Samuel Rivera tears up at a press conference discussing his lawsuit against Metro North after a train derailment left him paralyzed. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Rivera listens to his doctor, Dr. Argy Stampas, discuss his paralysis at Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Ossining resident Samuel Rivera was looking forward to going to Niketown in Manhattan with his son on Dec. 1.

Rivera, a mechanic for Metro-North, was paralyzed in the Metro-North train derailment that occurred in Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx that fateful day.

Rivera was left a C5 quadriplegic, with limited movement in his arm and no movement in his legs.

Rivera announced at Burke Rehabilitation Center in White Plains on Wednesday that he is suing Metro-North Railroad for $100 million to pay for the costs of his medical care.

In announcing the lawsuit, Rivera said he forgives William Rockefeller, the operator of the train.

"I probably will never walk again," Rivera said. "I remain at peace with myself. I constantly live with nerve pain in my arms and hands, muscle spasms that painfully twist and turn my spine and bed sores that never seem to heal. You don't realize what you have until it's gone."

Rivera is now calling for seat belts or safety restraints to be put on public transportation.

"Had safety restraints been available for use that morning, I would have used them," Rivera said. "Perhaps we would not be here today. Perhaps there would have been no fatalities and few injuries. Any transportation agency that receives federal or state money for their operation should provide some sort of protection for the public."

Despite his lawsuit, Rivera said he is grateful to Metro-North for remaining by his side and modifying his Ossining home so he can move back home.

"Never have I worked for a better employer than Metro-North Railroad," Rivera said. "I showed up on time to work everyday, never punched in late, loved my job and enjoyed the company of my fellow co-workers. Any legal action I am taking against Metro-North is to protect my family's financial future."

Argy Stampas, Rivera's doctor at Burke, said it was unlikely he would ever recover.

"There is less than one percent chance," Dr. Stampas said. "I'm not optimistic."

Rivera's lawyer, Gregory Cannata, said the medical costs will be extensive. Rivera requires a motorized wheelchair and around-the-clock aides.

Rivera said he is trying to remain positive through the whole ordeal.

"Being upset and angry won't get you anywhere," Rivera said. "I know I have to get better."

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