Articles Tagged with railroad

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. … "

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has issued an Opinion that provides that "Tenn. Code Ann. § 65-12-108 does not require a train engine operator to blow a train’s whistle or horn before crossing a private drive.  Tenn. Code Ann. § 65-12-108 only requires that a train engine operator blow a whistle or horn at public railway crossings."

The Opinion references a recent decision from the federal court in East Tennessee:

In Artrip v. Norfolk Southern Railway Company, No. 2:08-CV-200, 2009 WL 152482
(E.D. Tenn. Jan. 22, 2009), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee relied on Tennessee state law in holding that there is no requirement for a train engineer to sound a whistle when approaching a private railroad crossing. In Artrip, the plaintiff brought a claim against Norfolk Southern Railway Company after the decedent was struck and killed at a private railroad crossing in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Id. at *1. The plaintiff alleged that the train operator’s failure to sound a whistle warning before crossing the private drive was an act of negligence. Id. at *3. However, the District Court found no merit in plaintiff’s allegations of negligence, concluding that “although the locomotive did not blow its whistle, there was no requirement that it do so at a private crossing.” Id. at *13 (citing 49 C.F.R. § 222.25 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 65-12-108(1)). Summary judgment was granted in favor of the train operator, and the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed. Id. at *15.