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Train Wreck - Death Case

Case Conclusion Date: 09.26.1997

Practice Area: Car accident

Outcome: Settled on Appeal - 13.5 Million Net to Client

Description: Our minor clients were left orphaned after their parents and one sibling were killed in a railroad crossing when the train failed to sound a whistle warning. Through expert witnesses, photographic and video evidence we were able to demonstrate that the crossing was unsafe and should have had lights and gates. A key element in the case was a document that we forced the railroad to produce. Many railroad locomotives come equipped with “black boxes”. The devices record things such as train speed, braking and whether a whistle was sounded or not. There was conflicting witness testimony at trial regarding the sounding of a whistle. Railroad management had testified that there was not a “black box” on the lead locomotive. However, an internal document that we obtained in written discovery from the railroad indicated that the information from the “black box” had been downloaded. We obtained a written instruction from the Court to the jury that told them, if they believed evidence had been destroyed, they could infer that such evidence would have been unfavorable to the defendant railroad. Another aspect of the case was that the morning sun was coming directly out of the same direction from which the train was traveling. With the help of photographs taken at the accident site at the same time of day that the collision occurred, our expert witness on visibility issues was able to demonstrate to the jury that the train could not be seen by the driver of the vehicle. This made the sounding of the horn a critical issue in the case. Kevin Glasheen was lead counsel at trial, and the case was settled on appeal after a favorable jury verdict.

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