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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:59 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 12:05 pm
Posts: 329
Location: Philadelphia, Pa
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
Bobharbison wrote:
2) They do so much stupid stuff in car commercials that hopefully everyone has it figured out by now. If not, they're more likely to die trying to land on top of the train in their car....

Except I seem to recall THAT specific commercial quite liberally, almost farcically, applying quite a few "disclaimer" text graphics at the bottom, to the extent of "Do not attempt. Seriously, don't jump onto a train with your car. Please. Really. This doesn't work in real life." Or something to that effect.

So, yeah. Everyone will read that, and no one will try it, and no one will sue the auto maker. Rest easy. </snark>


Kinda like the TV drug commercials that spend more time telling you about the side effects than the drug itself.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:27 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 686
Location: Warren, PA
Likely this will be another classic case of the railroad gets sued no matter how right they are, simply being the deep pockets involved, potential for settlement, etc. If you look at the history, CSXT has been sued for some of the darndest things when they have had little if any involvement in the actual issue. The all-time winner remains the the 1993 Big Bayou Canot bridge wreck, barge hits bridge knocking it out of alignment, Amtrak goes in bay, multiple fatalaties, sue the bridge owner for being there. The other monumental 'get sued for being there' one is the 1987 tank car fire in New Orleans that ended up in the Louisiana Supreme Court before it was over... http://www.nytimes.com/1997/09/09/busin ... -fire.html So nobody should be surprised on the way this one goes, facts or no facts.

So one thing you can be sure of is that CSXT will be blamed, sued, etc. despite any actual evidence to the contrary, simply because they are there. Oh, and everybody gets to ignore NTSB findings, too, just to remind you of that. While I've seen plenty of instances over the years where various railroads have been the cause of their own torture, there's just as many if not more that get sued because they are the biggest available target in the field. We in preservation must be aware of that, because it's the single biggest reason for the emphatic 'NO!!!!!' to what appears to be rational proposals, questions, and concepts to all manner of things to Class 1's. You can't imagine being in that liability position every day, and still having the mission to make a profit for shareholders.

The other fallout that affects rail preservation is the concept (especially by the uneducated legal side) is that 'all railroads are big railroads', and are insured to the moon and open targets for easy and big settlement. The reality that many shortlines, excursion railroads, and even regionals are more like (very) small businesses than 'railroads' doesn't always sink in. The press and political reaction to Lac Megantic was classic in the assumption that the railroad naturally could pay for any and all manner of claims, not matter how large...they are a RAILROAD, after all, and are national in scope and a mega-corporation. Which led, in turn, to attempting to sue CP for even handling the train on its way there when the bottom of the insurance barrel was clearly visible. It's just as easy for "us" to get caught up in the same net. And you want to watch these proceedings carefully.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 949
As a reporter and a former railroader, I am well aware that no one except a railroad PR person is going to speak to the press. As a railroad manager, I would not even allow the train crew to speak to police, beyond giving them their names. Thus, if a railroad PR person fails to return a call, and my editor is demanding information, I have to use the information available to me from the police report and/or from bystander comments, even though as a former railroader, I know what probably happened and that police and particularly bystanders don't really have a clue.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:56 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
Years ago, I ended up in the press scrum after a major railroad accident (it made national newscasts), and after I asked but one highly technical railroad question at a press conference, the official spokesman for the railroad actually pulled me aside afterwards and asked who I was covering the story for. After revealing the rail magazine(s) for whom I was working on behalf, he said, "Look, you obviously already know more about what's going on here than anyone else here in the media. I'll talk with you in technical terms separately from the rest, with the understanding that some of it may be on record and some possibly off the record." And he did, a couple times. Unfortunately for me, another spokesman took command of media relations a day or two later, and he was a master of the political game of saying what he/they wanted to say rather than answering the questions asked--so much so that he was hired away by another large company with routine public relations problems (a power utility) shortly thereafter.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:27 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 726
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Randy Gustafson wrote:
You can't imagine being in that liability position every day, and still having the mission to make a profit for shareholders.


With all due respect, this is why major corporations have law departments. The staff attorneys will take the necessary actions to settle the case or litigate in such a manner that minimizes the expense to the company and avoids setting undesired precedents. I agree that litigation is a messy business and that there are some attorneys that encourage gold digging by their clients. We can thank the Supreme Court ruling that found advertising by attorneys to be protected free speech for a lot of that I suspect.

Back on topic, there are parties who have unquestionably been harmed-specifically the deceased camera operator, the injured crew members and the railroad employees who saw the whole thing unfold. All of them will have legitimate financial claims that must be addressed. I imagine that this will go on for a while between the defendant parties. If criminal charges are laid against individuals, that will make it a bit easier to convince the courts that those parties should bear the greater burden of the civil judgments.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:58 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2447
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Ron Travis wrote:
This story has received the strangest news coverage. ... ... Then it was reported that CSX gave the filming company permission to be on the bridge, but warned them to wait for two trains that would pass shortly. And CSX told them that there might also be a third train, but it will blow the horn, so they should have time to get out of its way.

I trust this tripped everyone's bullpoop alarm. This describes no railroad practice, but rather, what an idiot might think railroad practices might be.

Randy Gustafson wrote:
The press and political reaction to Lac Megantic was classic in the assumption that the railroad naturally could pay for any and all manner of claims, not matter how large...

Well, in fairness, a person should reasonably expect that if you are engaged in an activity, you have the means to pay for damage you might cause. The only alternative is the nuclear power plant insurance model, "tough beans, ask the government."

Bobharbison wrote:
Speaking to the press would only be done by "authorized personnel" and they're most certainly going to say "no comment" or at best "we are saddened by this tragic accident and are investigating..."

Not anymore. That's an example of clinging to old practices without the understanding of why they were correct, and are no longer. Time was, you stalled reporters so they couldn't finish their story by deadline, and wouldn't make it into the paper til it wasn't news anymore. Today, in the world of social media, stonewalling murders your brand because it hands the microphone to fools, fringers and detractors, who take over the messaging and become the news on the subject. That's what happened to Kryptonite.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:06 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:54 am
Posts: 794
Location: NJ
And if the crew on that third train did see people on the bridge, after they blew their horn*, they would have been able to stop in time. After all, the train has air brakes, right?

*Being facetious, and the media (not GWL) would normally use 'whistle' instead of horn.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 253
Randy Gustafson wrote:
The other fallout that affects rail preservation is the concept (especially by the uneducated legal side) is that 'all railroads are big railroads', and are insured to the moon and open targets for easy and big settlement. The reality that many shortlines, excursion railroads, and even regionals are more like (very) small businesses than 'railroads' doesn't always sink in. The press and political reaction to Lac Megantic was classic in the assumption that the railroad naturally could pay for any and all manner of claims, not matter how large...they are a RAILROAD, after all, and are national in scope and a mega-corporation. Which led, in turn, to attempting to sue CP for even handling the train on its way there when the bottom of the insurance barrel was clearly visible. It's just as easy for "us" to get caught up in the same net. And you want to watch these proceedings carefully.


It should be pointed out that for many, you have lost as soon as the case is filed.

Even if the judge rules in your favor, or you get the case thrown out; you have still lost.

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Restoring MILW X-5000: The Milwaukee Road's Dynamometer car

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:19 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
Variety has now created a page for the numerous articles covering this event. It has created quite a stir in the movie industry.

http://variety.com/t/midnight-rider/


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:43 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3030
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Bobharbison wrote:
Variety has now created a page for the numerous articles covering this event. It has created quite a stir in the movie industry.

http://variety.com/t/midnight-rider/


Looking through the articles and following comments, I came across this link posted by one of the comment writers. In view of what happened here, and in view of the stress we must put upon safe operation, I thought this link appropriate. Do go through it and check some other things out, particularly some comments about how we have some real physical laws to deal with.

http://www.rtms-movietrains.com/index.html


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:17 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:29 pm
Posts: 318
I think that if CSX did give them permission to be on the property there would be some kind of legal document...a contract or a signed waiver. Doubtful they would give real permission for something like that without a paper trail.

Beyond that...how do you got "permission" from a giant corporate entity? Who do you talk to? A contract maintenance of way worker? A retired brakeman? Somebody who answered the phone at the corporate 1-800 number? The whole story stinks.

Regarding preservation...this will just drive home the point that Class 1's do not want non-employees on the tracks...period. So moving historic equipment on CSX tracks will likely become even harder in the future.

T7


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:58 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
Posts: 253
Termite7 wrote:
I think that if CSX did give them permission to be on the property there would be some kind of legal document...a contract or a signed waiver. Doubtful they would give real permission for something like that without a paper trail.

Beyond that...how do you got "permission" from a giant corporate entity? Who do you talk to? A contract maintenance of way worker? A retired brakeman? Somebody who answered the phone at the corporate 1-800 number? The whole story stinks.


If CSX had officially given them permission, they would have had multiple contracts and liability waivers, courtesy of the legal department (with approval and knowledge of right-of-way agents and operations), with all the associated paper trail (both interdepartmental and to the production company). As others have said, if they had permission to be on the right of way, at least one qualified flagger would have been present, derails and/or red flags up, dispatcher aware that track was fouled and track officially "locked out". I find it ridiculously difficult to believe that CSX gave permission without all of that when that's BASIC practices for a shortline... (And even then you should still be paying attention in any direction for a train).

Termite7 wrote:
Regarding preservation...this will just drive home the point that Class 1's do not want non-employees on the tracks...period. So moving historic equipment on CSX tracks will likely become even harder in the future.


The trend is already there. I doubt this one incident will have a noticeable affect on policy towards historic equipment (movies on the other hand...) The only way this will affect movement of historic rolling stock and locomotives is if insurance rates go up as a result.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:59 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1214
Termite7 wrote:
I think that if CSX did give them permission to be on the property there would be some kind of legal document...a contract or a signed waiver. Doubtful they would give real permission for something like that without a paper trail.

Beyond that...how do you got "permission" from a giant corporate entity? Who do you talk to? A contract maintenance of way worker? A retired brakeman? Somebody who answered the phone at the corporate 1-800 number? The whole story stinks.T7


What about that possibility? What happens if someone is given permission from a representative of a company, but it is not formal permission through proper channels?

I once visited the Clinchfield RR, and I inquired at a yard office about whether I could look around and take some pictures. The guy I talked to said, “Sure, go ahead. Just be careful.” There was no signed release or other paperwork, no request for my identification, and I had no idea who the guy was that gave me permission.

Was that "real" permission?


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:38 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
Posts: 1195
Location: Chicago USA
That's one thing. Giving permission for a big film crew to occupy tracks is quite another. You may be sure that no permission was given by anyone at any level. If there had been, besides the documents and waivers and so forth, even locked out track would have had several railroad people there and live track (unlikely that that would have been allowed, which it was not) would have been crawling with enough railroad special agents to keep an eye on ALL of the movie people who might be widely dispersed.

Naturally, there would be no surprise train since there would have been constant contact with dispatcher and crews AND any train that was allowed to move through the area would have been at restricted speed. You know the "you'll hear a whistle" business is bunk. No one on the railroad would make lives dependent on hearing a distant whistle. And who still refers to whistles?

The only question that remains is who knew there was no permission / permission denied and had them go ahead anyway.

Sadly, yes, CSX will probably be sued regardless of the facts as though they should have anticipated a film crew and a bed on the track. ("Expect a film crew on any track at any time with the camera pointed in any direction.") The film distributor will be sued, too, even if they had nothing to do with any aspect of the production other than to sign a contract saying "We give you x million. You deliver us a finished movie to distribute." Deepest pockets.

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:15 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1214
Well I am just saying that there is proper legal permission and there is informal verbal permission. I have been on railroad property with both types of permission. I understand your point that the larger the entity asking for permission, the less likely there will be informal permission involved. But there is always the possibility that this matter can be blurred, and until we know that did not happen, I don’t see any way to conclude that it did not.

As of a week ago, the sheriff and detective investigating this accident had not yet concluded whether the film company had permission from CSX. All they have said is that CSX says they did not give permission. That is as of a week ago, so maybe there is new information, but I have not heard it.

What I find very interesting is that they were looking at whether or not there was a CSX representative accompanying the film crew as an indicator of whether the film crew had permission from CSX. I cannot imagine pursuing that thin lead if the question of permission is clear.

Here is the main point that I see:

If the film crew had no paperwork or even a verbal explanation of having received informal verbal permission from CSX, why would there be an question at this point?


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