• Wrongful Death Suit, Courtesy of the UTU

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by GOLDEN-ARM
 
Hey, JG, a very interesting, but sad article. These days, it seems folks want everyone else to be responsible for raising and protecting their kids. When something goes wrong, gotta find a lawyer...... I recently had an "argument" with another hog, about these rules. I contended that there is NO law, or rule, stating you must attempt to stop before hitting a person, or auto at a crossing. No rule, or law even requires you to stop, after hitting either one. Some rulebooks will make you report to the DS, but you are not required to stop. He felt that you must "dump-em" any time you think you are going to hit anything. (must make for a long day, ridin' with this guy) The sad fact is, the railroads know this, and use this loophole, or flaw, in the law, to lay the responsibility on us. I have been sued twice (unsucessfully both times) by attorneys looking to collect for families I had "damaged", by killing people too stupid to stay off the tracks, or who thought they MIGHT beat the train, to the crossing. In both cases, I was exonerated, but strangely, and sadly, was not afforded representation by a railroad appointed attorney. I had to "go it alone" both times, and ended up testifying against the railroads, for their betrayal of me, and the crew. I now run with the attitude of "thump 'em, then dump 'em". Too many times plugging them, and making no impact, and the outcome in court, that showed it would not be any harder to prevail, if I hit them before dumping the air. If I think I am really gonna nail them, I flip the sanders on, to get the line started, at an earlier point on the rails, if youy know what I mean...... :(

  by GOLDEN-ARM
 
P.S. to Rebecca: GO SCREW YOURSELF. Blaming the engineer is a cowards way out...........You trespassing idiiot!!! :P

  by RussNelson
 
I think that not everyone realizes that trains simply don't have the ability to stop within the engineer's sight distance. By the time an engineer sees something on the tracks, he's GOING to hit it.

  by jg greenwood
 
GOLDEN-ARM wrote:Hey, JG, a very interesting, but sad article. These days, it seems folks want everyone else to be responsible for raising and protecting their kids. When something goes wrong, gotta find a lawyer...... I recently had an "argument" with another hog, about these rules. I contended that there is NO law, or rule, stating you must attempt to stop before hitting a person, or auto at a crossing. No rule, or law even requires you to stop, after hitting either one. Some rulebooks will make you report to the DS, but you are not required to stop. He felt that you must "dump-em" any time you think you are going to hit anything. (must make for a long day, ridin' with this guy) The sad fact is, the railroads know this, and use this loophole, or flaw, in the law, to lay the responsibility on us. I have been sued twice (unsucessfully both times) by attorneys looking to collect for families I had "damaged", by killing people too stupid to stay off the tracks, or who thought they MIGHT beat the train, to the crossing. In both cases, I was exonerated, but strangely, and sadly, was not afforded representation by a railroad appointed attorney. I had to "go it alone" both times, and ended up testifying against the railroads, for their betrayal of me, and the crew. I now run with the attitude of "thump 'em, then dump 'em". Too many times plugging them, and making no impact, and the outcome in court, that showed it would not be any harder to prevail, if I hit them before dumping the air. If I think I am really gonna nail them, I flip the sanders on, to get the line started, at an earlier point on the rails, if youy know what I mean...... :(
Sad situation all the way around there G.A. I can't imagine the carrier hanging you out to dry. Wait a minute, yes I can! We're nothing more to them than a number and a warm body to occupy the cab. A situation such as that really develops company loyalty doesn't it? Not!
I've been extremely fortunate in that I've never hit a pedestrian or a vehicle, yet. I hope that I can say the same when the time rolls around to pull the pin.

  by pennsy
 
Hi All,

Interesting tales of horror. Can't imagine that the RR did not have their attornies represent you. Can't imagine why these litigants thought you had deeper pockets than the RR.

Some of my acquaintences are RR cops. They tell me first off that it is quick and the victim feels no pain. They also complain about having to walk the tracks with a canvas bag picking up the pieces.

Another point they bring out, and for some reason is becoming more and more prevalent. That is, Suicide by Train. Last one I heard of was a teenager that was despondent and just lied down on the tracks until the train solved ALL of his problems.

  by RussNelson
 
GOLDEN-ARM wrote: strangely, and sadly, was not afforded representation by a railroad appointed attorney.
In the short term, railroad has a fixed amount of money with which to compensate their engineers. They could defend engineers against work-related lawsuits, or they could give the engineer an equivalent amount of extra pay. Railroads want to retain their best engineers. In order to get them, they have to supply the highest compensation -- as valued by the employees. If an employee doesn't properly value the risk of being sued, he would probably prefer the pay even though rationally he would be better-off accepting lower pay with his risk covered. Conversely, they only need to pay their worst engineers the same amount as the last person hired. And that person is probably not experienced enough to put a high enough value on the risk of being sued, since they''ve not yet been sued.

That says that perhaps railroads should offer experienced engineers legal services rather than another raise? It seems sensible that a railroad could provide legal services cheaper than an equivalent amount of money that an engineer would have to spend on a lawyer simply because of the transaction costs.

Is this analysis sane?

  by roadster
 
I find it unusual that the company didn't pay for your attorney. If the engineer is found at some amount of fault, because he is and employee and represents the company, his amount of fault is the company's. While having been through my own horror show. The Company had me represented by private attorney who's fees were compensated by the company. They had their own contract attorney. As far as children on the tracks, if I had to stop everytime I heard that report. I would never get the thing over the road. Sounds like the Mom's had issues before the incident. Parenting 101.

  by David Benton
 
One thing i ve noticed in fatal accidents . relatives always look for someone to blame . no matter how obvious it was the deceased was at fault , it is somehow more comforting to believe that someone else at least contributed to that death ( preferaby a big corporation ) . That is human nature , i dont think they are always been maliicous or greedy , just trying to reinforce what they want to believe . Of course then lawyers get involved , and it does become a monetary issue .

  by Ken W2KB
 
I read some piece in the last day or two, that some self-appointed citizen safety activists are calling for CalTrans to install razor wire fencing, quad gates at grade crossings, and limit train speed in populated areas to 25 mph max since motor vehicle speed limits in those areas are also 25 so rail should not be different.
  by DutchRailnut
 
Lawyers tell me that they avoid going to court if at all possible when kids are involved. Sympathies always lie with the children. One of my friends was stopped at a Stop sign when a 12-year-old rode his bike into her car. She made sure he was OK and they both rode off. Later, she was sued and her insurance company said they would settle because they didn't think they could win in court, no matter what the circumstances, when a kid was involved. I think something similar was going on in this case.

The only result I see is that some lawyers got richer. The kids are gone and won't come back as the result of a lawsuit.

Amtrak, families in settlement over girls' deaths

The families of two girls who were struck and killed by a passenger train in Kent six years ago have reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with Amtrak, the Seattle Times reports.

A wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the families of Rachel Marturello and Zandra Lafley was to go to trial next month, but the settlement was reached May 8 in a conference before U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle. The plaintiffs and Amtrak refused to comment on the settlement.

The lawsuit was considered unusual because wrongful-death cases involving pedestrians struck by trains rarely reach trial, attorneys say. The burden of proof in Washington is high for plaintiffs to win a wrongful-death case: They must prove the train company showed wanton and willful disregard for safety.

Rachel Marturello, 11, and her sister, Rebecca, then 14, and friend Zandra Lafley, 13, were walking on a railroad trestle in Kent on April 20, 2000, when they saw a northbound Amtrak train approaching. Rebecca was able to run and jump to safety, but the other two girls were struck and killed.

According to court documents, the engineer saw the girls when he was about a mile away. He blew the whistle, slowed the train and then released the brake when he thought they were out of the way. Apparently confused, the two girls jumped back in front of the train.

The state has no guidelines for engineers to prevent hitting pedestrians. Amtrak requires only that an engineer sound a warning signal if someone is on the tracks. The assumption is that anyone who hears the signal will get out of the way, according to the railroad.

Railroads generally take the position that people who walk onto tracks, which are private property, put themselves in harm's way by trespassing, thus negating the railroads' liability.

It's a position that has been supported by state and federal transportation agencies.

Earlier, the U.S. District Court granted summary judgment to Amtrak, finding insufficient evidence that the engineer had been willfully careless and caused the girls' deaths.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed it in a 2-to-3 decision in March 2005, saying there appeared to be sufficient evidence for a jury to find the railroad liable.

(This item appeared May 10, 2006, in the Seattle Times.)

  by GOLDEN-ARM
 
In the first case, the NYS&W told me "it would be a conflict of interest" to afford me an attorney!!! The Soo Line also failed to represent me, in a case of tresspasser fatality, citing again, the "conflict". "I" however, had no conflict, in assisting the prosecutions case, against the railroads defenses. In both cases, with myself, and the railroad being 100% in the clear, and in no way having any share of culpability, I was able to bring testimony against the carriers, that resulted in payments to the "victims" families. Much, much costlier than offering me representation, in the first place. I have been afforded attorneys', by the DSRR and the UP, and I was favorable, to both of them, in my testimony. You get what you give, in a sense........... :P Regards :-D

  by roadster
 
Glad to hear it Golden-arm, Take care. I guess it's a "Rich" thing. :wink:

  by RussNelson
 
No, I think it's more of a *stupid* thing. It seems to me like every organization larger than a hundred people systematically does stupid things counter to their own interest. First guy to solve that problem gets to be a billionaire.

  by GOLDEN-ARM
 
Yeah, stupid sounds right. That little "incident" caused me to quit, and hire out on Conrail, while my fellow crewman and engineer went to Amtrak. (we were all engineers, on the NYSW) One deciscion I have never regretted............... :-D