The Star-Tribune from Minneapolis – St. Paul reports that a state court judge in Minnesota imposed a $4 million sanction against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. for engaging in a "staggering" pattern of misconduct aimed at covering up its role in the deaths of four young people whose car collided with a train largely because a crossing gate wasn’t working properly.
The paper reports that the railroad began destroying evidence within minutes of the incident.
The trial judge, Ellen Maas, found that the railroad company lost or fabricated evidence, interfered with the families’ investigation of the accident and "knowingly advanced lies, misleading facts and/or misrepresentations" in order to conceal the truth and "has attempted to explain away each instance of misconduct as either an innocent mistake or a mere coincidence. … "
Among the misconduct:
• Losing or destroying a computer disk that recorded the train’s speed and other factors on the night of the collision. The disk would have revealed whether the victims were given adequate warning time at the crossing. A laptop containing the data was also destroyed.
• The railroad’s failure to disclose its awareness of previous signal problems at the crossing.
• The destruction of records relating to work done on eight feet of track at the crossing.
Read the article here.