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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:29 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 457
Here are more articles about the trial from WSAV:

Jury awards $11.2 million to family of film worker in CSX civil case
and
CSX owner plans to appeal $3.9 million awarded to Jones’ family


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:01 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:27 am
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Location: Winters, TX
Loved the comments of the parents. Glad to hear that it wasn't about the money. Gotta give her credit for saying that with a straight face.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:10 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
Ron Travis wrote:

At this point, what I would really like to hear is the detailed explanation of the legal theory as to why CSX’s failure to follow their own rules on reporting trespassers proves their negligence. All we have been told is that it does prove their negligence, but CSX repeatedly said it does not prove that. So I would like a deep explanation of this matter just in terms of the applicable law.


One might reasonably expect the prior communications between the film company and CSX to be one factor. Another might be the bridge itself, which could possibly be classified as an attractive nuisance. Previous court decisions (actual case law) have included turntables (specifically) as attractive nuisances and held that where an attractive nuisance is present, the property owner has a greater duty of care.

However, the jury has ruled and so the evidence in the case will not be re-examined. If CSX gets a favorable outcome, it won't be because they were vindicated by the facts-it will be because the trial court erred in some part of arcane procedure or law.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:54 pm 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:30 pm
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I'm sorry, but this legal action was excessive. As has been pointed out already, CSX was not to blame for the accident because the train crew did not know the movie crew was on the bridge! Apparently the jury assumed CSX crews were psychic or something and neglected to use their clairvoyance to see if anyone was on the bridge (if I may say so with heavy sarcasm).
Seriously, I worry for any museum that has a trespasser killed by a train on their property. This case against CSX has set a bad precedent.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:48 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:31 am
Posts: 99
Location: Northern Illinois
railfan261 wrote:
Apparently the jury assumed CSX crews were psychic or something and neglected to use their clairvoyance to see if anyone was on the bridge . . .
Seriously, I worry for any museum that has a trespasser killed by a train on their property. This case against CSX has set a bad precedent.


The jury believed that the CSX crew on Q125(19) should have been informed by the crews of the preceding trains that there were people on or near the tracks, in conformance with CSX policies and procedures as they were described to the jury at the trial. They did NOT believe the engineer's assertion that it would have been unwise to apply the brakes in emergency (as it turns out, they were so applied after the accident; the train took 75 seconds and 3,687 feet to stop safely from 56 mph per the event recorder data). According to Gary Wolf of Rail Sciences, the plaintiffs' expert witness, even a service brake application would have slowed the train to a crawl before reaching the film crew. It's hard to argue against a layman juror's many experiences braking automobiles in near-miss situations.

Conclusions one might reach from the case:

1. It doesn't pay to have too many vague policies in effect - the legal system prefers rules and science and doesn't give much weight to experience or common sense if there are such rules. If you didn't follow your own rules as the jury understands them, you're in trouble.
2. If you say "no", say it clearly - witnesses for the plaintiffs claim CSX was vague in their latest refusal to allow filming on their tracks.
3. The brakes are there to be used as far as the jury is concerned - you better have a real good reason for not using them (locomotive engineers who run long freights for a living may disagree, of course).

As to the other remark quoted above, any museum that has anyone killed on their property is in legal trouble, no doubt about it. This case does not really break any new ground - trespassers on railroad bridges are killed with some regularity, and the railroad is almost always found liable to some extent by the trial jury.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:54 am 

Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:30 pm
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But if people foolishly trespass on railway lines, aren't they the ones at fault? I just do not get this legal stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:54 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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Peter Nicholson wrote:
3. The brakes are there to be used as far as the jury is concerned - you better have a real good reason for not using them (locomotive engineers who run long freights for a living may disagree, of course).


I would tend to agree. I can understand not putting it into emergency until you determine an actual emergency exists, but I would think that people on a bridge, even if they're blatant trespassers, deserve at least a service application while you figure out what's going on.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:18 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
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Location: Back in NE Ohio
While I never came close to being involved in anything like this incident, I can say that if I as an engineer, or with an engineer when I was a conductor started stopping every time it looked like we were approaching a potential strike of either a vehicle or pedestrian, we'd be taking air many more times per trip than necessary, especially in the Northeast. Generally, what was expected of an engineer on CSX with regards to "trespasser" incidents, what they wanted to see on the event recorder download, was sounding the horn all the way through the event in hopes of getting the offenders off the track if possible, then safely putting the train into emergency as soon as it either became obvious a collision was inevitable or as it happened (like when a vehicle drives around the gates too quickly to take action beforehand). I've got a prime example of one that happened to me on YouTube titled, "Almost accident between train and SUV - CLOSE!", from 2007 at Queensbury Rd., Riverdale Park, MD (just East of the wye to the Alexandria Extension at CP JD). I came within 20 ft. of hitting an Escalade, which would have thrown the vehicle into the videographer who shot the incident and killed him, but I didn't stop, laid on the horn all the way through the crossing and kept on going. Couldn't get the guy's license number.

Sometimes it doesn't work out. As a conductor I was involved in a trespasser fatality in Wilmington, DE in May of '03. A woman who was drinking with friends next to the Philly Sub, just East of Wilsmere yard was sitting on the edge of a tie (at a cemetery no less), and as the train I was conductor on was leaving the signaled siding after working the yard approached, sounding a warning, she tried to stand and get out of the way, but being somewhat drunk, lost her balance and sat back down on the tracks as we got to her, striking her with a glancing blow from the pilot. My engineer put the train in emergency immediately, and we were cleared from blame. Does not make the mother of three any less dead, however.

From what I have read of the Georgia incident, without having access to the statements from the crew involved, it sounds like they did what was expected of them from supervision. If there is a problem, it is with management policy regarding taking action approaching such a situation. At 56 mph, covering almost 100 ft./sec., by the time you recognize just exactly what the situation is you are looking at, and what action to take, there really is no way to avoid a collision.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:48 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:07 pm
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Location: Utah
Here's an interesting update: one of the jurors claims that she was bullied into the decision during the trial and claims that the verdict was unfair because of that. Perhaps with this information the appeal has some footing?

http://savannahnow.com/column/opinion/2017-07-20/jane-hodge-angry-juror-blasts-39-million-csx-verdict

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:07 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
Utah Josh wrote:
Here's an interesting update: one of the jurors claims that she was bullied into the decision during the trial and claims that the verdict was unfair because of that. Perhaps with this information the appeal has some footing?

http://savannahnow.com/column/opinion/2017-07-20/jane-hodge-angry-juror-blasts-39-million-csx-verdict


Unless the appellant can demonstrate a link to error on part of the court, probably not. Her description is pretty accurate of how the jury system works. Once you go into deliberations, the whole matter is up to laymen. The most likely challenge would be to the instructions given to the jury by the court. Was something excluded that should have been included? Was something included that should have been excluded? Did the judge apply the law correctly? The fact that one juror didn't stick to her guns alone does not necessarily indicate that the court committed a reversible error. My question about here would be this: If she was so certain that the verdict was unfair, why didn't she hang the jury?

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:17 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
railfan261 wrote:
This case against CSX has set a bad precedent.


No precedent has been set. Legal precedent is only established once the case has been appealed and the appellate court publishes an opinion. Then it becomes case law which is used by attorneys to establish precedent for arguments in future litigation.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 1:22 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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Alan Walker wrote:
[ The most likely challenge would be to the instructions given to the jury by the court. Was something excluded that should have been included? Was something included that should have been excluded? Did the judge apply the law correctly?


What was the law and how should it have been applied in this case?

When CSX was confronted by the plaintiff for not reporting the trespassers as required by their own rules, they replied that their failure to report the trespassers does not prove their negligence. So how exactly was CSX's negligence established in legal terms?


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:49 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
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Location: Tucson, Arizona
Ron Travis wrote:
Alan Walker wrote:
[ The most likely challenge would be to the instructions given to the jury by the court. Was something excluded that should have been included? Was something included that should have been excluded? Did the judge apply the law correctly?


What was the law and how should it have been applied in this case?

When CSX was confronted by the plaintiff for not reporting the trespassers as required by their own rules, they replied that their failure to report the trespassers does not prove their negligence. So how exactly was CSX's negligence established in legal terms?


That's what the appellate court will determine if CSX appeals the case. This is where things get down to the nuts and bolts of civil law. Evidence that was considered in the trial court will not be reconsidered. What the appellate court will examine is whether the trial judge made some administrative error in his or her management of the case. Did the trial court apply the Rules of Civil Procedure correctly? Was there a reversible error that would justify remand to the trial court? The jury has already made their determination-that's not going to be re-examined. What CSX has to prove is the existence of an error that occurred during the trial that would have likely resulted in a different verdict. If they can prove that, the case could be overturned or remanded back to the trial court. If the appellate court is not convinced by CSX's argument, the trial court's verdict will be sustained.

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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:01 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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Alan Walker,

So this information about what law this ruling was based on is not publically available at this time? I am not asking whether the legal theory was right or wrong, but merely asking what the legal theory was. All that I have heard is that CSX did not follow their own rules on responding to trespassers. But I think to a lot of people, it is not obvious why this makes CSX negligent regarding the accident.


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 Post subject: Re: Film crewman killed by train
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2010 6:22 pm
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I'm surprised this case got as far as it has, most states - especially in the South - have tort laws on the books negating liability during criminal acts including trespassing.

CD


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