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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:30 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2124
Location: Northern Illinois
Ron Travis wrote:

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?


No, It wasn't... and if you would have been hurt, and claimed you had "permission", that employee would have been looking at an unpaid vacation.

I worked for the Chicago Transit Authority for thirteen years. When you think about the CTA, it's one continuous bridge, except for the part that is one continuous tunnel. My duties periodically put me on the track, often within sight of the general public. During that whole time, I never once gave anyone "permission" to be anyplace except in public areas. Of course it didn't help that I have little use for subway fans, but the fact remains there was absolutely NO place a non-employee could safely go. The only exception I ever made was I agreed to open a public platform that was closed for fare control purposes for a couple friends during one of the IRM "Snowflake Special" fan trips, so they could capture a photo of the old wood car with the classic Homan & Lake station in the background, and I was with them until the gate was locked again.

I certainly didn't want to see anyone get hurt, and I certainly wasn't going to jeopardize my family's livelihood so some foamer could hug the L cars.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:53 am 
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Guys, not everyone at a company thinks things through. It IS possible that 'someone' at CSX told the film crew exactly what has been reported. Would the film crew know if that info was bogus? Not likely.
When I was still in Uncle Sam's employment, a TV station wanted to film a Army unit going through live fire on a tank range. A civilian employee of range control, not knowing that a certain range was scheduled that day for tank live fire, gave an OK for them to film what they wanted. The tanks roll up to the firing positions and the first round goes downrange. Seconds later, the commander of the sceond tank calls ceas fire when he sees the TV crew scrambling from behind a berm, halfway down the range and well in the line of fire! I was there and was the first person to catch up to them running. I called range control and confirmed a few minutes later they had indeed gotten permission. It just wasn't the official permission they needed, but how could they have known that, having called what would be assumed by anyone to be the right office and got an 'OK' from someone there?
Ron Travis wrote:
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?

Good point. I've been given similar permission at various RR facilities over the years.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:12 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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p51 wrote:
Guys, not everyone at a company thinks things through. It IS possible that 'someone' at CSX told the film crew exactly what has been reported. Would the film crew know if that info was bogus? Not likely.

Ron Travis wrote:
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?

Good point. I've been given similar permission at various RR facilities over the years.


Lee,

That is my point exactly. I am not sure where the line is drawn between “informal” permission and “real” permission since both are coming from representatives of the entity granting the permission. But it seems clear that the entity could grant relatively “informal” permission and then say they did not grant permission, meaning “real” permission.

Until this issue is sorted out, I don't think we can automatically conclude that the film crew did not have permission from CSX simply based on our knowledge of formal written permission from a railroad company.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:23 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Baltimore, MD
Ron Travis wrote:
That is my point exactly. I am not sure where the line is drawn between “informal” permission and “real” permission since both are coming from representatives of the entity granting the permission. But it seems clear that the entity could grant relatively “informal” permission and then say they did not grant permission, meaning “real” permission.

Until this issue is sorted out, I don't think we can automatically conclude that the film crew did not have permission from CSX simply based on our knowledge of formal written permission from a railroad company.


There is all the difference in the world between "can we go down near that bridge and shoot a movie scene?" and "can we stage an elaborate dream sequence involving placing furniture and actors on live track on a drawbridge and setting up film lights and gear on the bridge?"

Just like there's a big difference between "can I scoot down to the engine track and get a photo of those two locos and then leave [in a mostly dead yard with no movements anywhere in sight and no trains due through for hours, and the yardmaster is dying of boredom]?" and "can I climb on top of that coaling tower [up the ladder that hasn't been used for years] to get a panorama shot of the yard?"

Courtesy and common sense dispenses of most of the "problems" we experience with trespassers, permission, etc. Whatever courtesy may or may not have been exchanged between railroad and production company, it's plain that common sense was dispensed with by the producers in pursuit of a vision.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:16 pm 

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Ron Travis wrote: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?

Let me ask this: If I had visited the Clinchfield, and inquired at a yard office about whether I could llok around and then take my crew of about 30 and set up across active yard trackage with props and lighting... would I have gotten "Sure, go ahead...?"

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:54 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1214
Overmod wrote:
Ron Travis wrote: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?

Let me ask this: If I had visited the Clinchfield, and inquired at a yard office about whether I could llok around and then take my crew of about 30 and set up across active yard trackage with props and lighting... would I have gotten "Sure, go ahead...?"


Well I don’t know. It all depends on the personality, common sense, and judgment of the person being asked for permission. I don’t think the answer to that question is clear cut at all. It depends not only on the person granting the unofficial permission, but also on how the grantee interprets the permission. It also depends on how the grantor interprets the intended activity of the grantee once the grantee enters the railroad property.

So, while I think it is fairly predictable as to what a railroad company would do with a request for official permission, it is not clear at all what kind of outcome would have developed from an informal grant of permission. Therefore, until the investigators have ruled out such informal permission and whatever misunderstandings may have accompanied it, I see no way to conclude that it did not play a critical role in this accident.

I did notice that when this accident was first reported, there was a lot of ambiguity and conflicting information regarding the question of whether the film crew had permission. At one point, CSX refused to say that the film crew did not have their permission. Therefore, I see no way to jump to any conclusions based on what we know of normal, official railroad company practice.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:21 pm 

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At one point, CSX refused to say that the film crew did not have their permission. Therefore, I see no way to jump to any conclusions based on what we know of normal, official railroad company practice.[/quote]

This simply might have been another way for CSX to say "No comment, we don't have all the information, and we're still doing an investigation".


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:47 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 6:45 pm
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EDM wrote:
This simply might have been another way for CSX to say "No comment, we don't have all the information, and we're still doing an investigation".


Which is the same thing that any other large corporate entity would do under the circumstances; shut the mouth and figure out what happened, then talk.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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Ron Travis wrote:
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


You get an established agreement, in writing, from the entity that is authorizing you to be on the right of way. In my case, that's usually the engineering department. It comes from high up in corporate, not the roadmaster etc.

It will be in writing, you'll supply proof of insurance naming the railroad as additionally insured, and at least in the case of my work (track construction/repair) you'll also provide "railroad protective insurance" which basically says "If I do something and your train derails as a result, this insurance covers it." Limits vary, but $10 Mllion is typical for small project.

Sounds complicated and expensive, right? You got it!

Quote:
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?


The lawyers would have to figure that out. Did he have permission to grant you access? Were you there on official company business? For example, I can get official permission to enter a yard and check on the location of car that is being shipped to me by contacting the yardmaster.

Those were kinder and gentler times. It's hard to say what would have happened had you been injured or killed. Had you been busy taking photos of the 3:15 passenger coming north and failed to notice the southbound extra until you felt a sharp pain in your back, it would most likely have gotten ugly.

I am GUESSING, and only guessing, the person who gave you permission would have been fired. The railroad may (or may not) have said "He was trespassing". Generally speaking, verbal agreements aren't worth the paper they're not written on.

"Just be careful" also changed the agreement. That would imply that putting a bed and a film crew in the middle of a bridge was outside of the scope of your agreement. It was implied that you had enough brains to know you shouldn't foul the tracks, climb on equipment, stand someplace where you could get hit etc. In other words, you took some responsibility for your actions.

Legally speaking? I'm guessing the agreement was more along the lines of "Ok, if you don't do anything stupid, I'll pretend I don't know you're out there and I won't call the Special Agent on you..." rather than an actual agreement holding the company to anything.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:04 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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Bob,

That top quote you attribute to me above was actually said by Termite7, not by me. I have a fairly good idea of what it is like to get official permission from a railroad company.

Regarding your comments on informal permission, I have no idea what the company would be held to, although I suspect they would bear more responsibility if something went wrong than they would if no informal permission were given. After all, the person asking for permission has no idea what the railroad considers to be proper permission. It is up to the railroad to decide that. And since many seem to agree that an employee granting informal or improper permission would be in trouble, I assume that the act would place the railroad company in jeopardy in terms of liability.

Verbal agreements of permission may be worthless, as you say, if a person could not prove they were given verbal permission. But in the case of somebody being given an authorized ride in an engine, for example, the permission is self-evident by the obvious awareness of the engineer.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:43 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
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Location: Chicago USA
The "real" permission question ignores that this concerned a movie crew with a large number of people who want to film on live track. That's quite a bit different than some shop foreman telling Bob and Joe Railfan that it's okay to go out back and take some photos of the dead line with, "Just be careful."

I doubt some local person is going to give permission to a movie crew to do anything. We're talking most likely a camera & lighting equipment truck, makeup truck, honeywagon, catering, props, wardrobe, dressing room trailers, and on and on. Dozens of vehicles. They bring EVERYTHING. It's not just a couple guys with a tripod. Where do you think that bed came from?

With that in mind, does anyone really think some local CSXer is going to give some sort of "local" permission for anything? Only if he/she was seriously misled such as a promise to film near the tracks but never within so many feet of them. And even that I doubt. Someone sees this entourage coming, they're not going to okay anything at all. Permission for railfans to take some photos---maybe (though ever more doubtful). Permission for a movie crew? No way, IMHO.

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:28 am 

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OK...how about this scenario...what if the film crew had seen a railfan hiding in the weeds with a scanner (and a cap) and had assumed that he worked for CSX. They ask the railfan "can we go onto the bridge to film a scene"? The guy says..."duh, sure...just wait for the second train to pass" and off they go.

They set up the scene...the third train comes and people are hurt...then who is to blame? Would CSX still be to blame because they allowed the foamer to hide in their weeds and become overly familiar with the operations?

Thoughts?

T7


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:26 am 

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I wonder what the film company told Rayonier and CSX they were going to do out there. If I understand it correctly, the film company approached CSX and asked to film on the trestle, and CSX refused to approve it. Then the film company asked Rayonier for permission to enter their property, and Rayonier said okay. It was reported that CSX said that prior to the accident, they knew the film company was out there. I wonder how they would have known that.

As of not more than a week ago, the sheriff and the investigator said they were still trying to determine if the film company had permission to be on the bridge. This was at least one week after CSX said they had not given permission to be on the bridge. If CSX had stated that they had not given permission, why would the sheriff still be trying to figure out if permission was given?


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:35 am 

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Ron Travis wrote:
As of not more than a week ago, the sheriff and the investigator said they were still trying to determine if the film company had permission to be on the bridge. This was at least one week after CSX said they had not given permission to be on the bridge. If CSX had stated that they had not given permission, why would the sheriff still be trying to figure out if permission was given?


While I believe that CSX did not give permission to the film crew based on the evidence I have seen, the sheriff/investigator would be derelict in their duty to not examine whatever evidence that the film crew has for permission. One of the benefits of living in this country is review of the charges against you, and the right to argue your side of the story.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:41 am 

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How about this scenario? The news reports say that Rayonier had given the film crew permission to be on their property. I'm guessing that both sides of the ROW are Rayonier's. Maybe the film people weren't aware that the CSX ROW is not part of Rayonier's property, so they assume they have permission to be on the ROW. Maybe it was a Rayonier guy said something like, "There's usually just two trains come by, if another one comes, you'll hear the 'whistle'."

And, I am somewhat surprised that there haven't been any reports of any Rayonier people at the site. You'd think if a Rayonier guy was there, he'd have said something about the tracks not being their property when he saw them getting on the ROW. Seems like Rayonier might be in for some lawsuits.


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