By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - Amtrak has asked a U.S. judicial panel to consolidate lawsuits before a single judge in Philadelphia over the May 12 train derailment that killed eight people and injured more than 200.
The railroad on Tuesday joined many plaintiffs in requesting that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation appoint U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis, who already oversees 16 cases stemming from the accident, to handle all 22 existing lawsuits plus "numerous" others it expects to be filed.
Passengers on Train 188 have sued Amtrak in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey over injuries linked to the May 12 derailment, which occurred when the train left the track along a northbound curve in Philadelphia after traveling at more than twice the speed limit.
The consolidation of similar lawsuits can make litigation more efficient and less expensive.
Amtrak has said its liability from a single accident is capped at $200 million, under a 1997 federal law.
It is unclear when the judicial panel, which is comprised of seven federal judges and known as the MDL panel, will rule.
Congress created the MDL panel in 1968 to decide when civil lawsuits involving common questions of fact should be combined before a single judge, to prevent duplicative and wasteful litigation as well as inconsistent court rulings.
The case is In re: Amtrak Train Derailment in Philadelphia, PA on May 12, 2015, U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, No. 15-04791.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Grant McCool)