A $19 million damage award to the widow of a man killed when a train struck him as he attempted to cross the tracks has been affirmed.
Defendant railroad company had sought a new trial based primarily on a typo and alleged “intentional non-disclosures” by a single juror. The Missouri Supreme Court found these arguments unpersuasive.
Court records reveal decedent was a 53-year-old businessman who died when his pickup truck was struck by a northbound freight train at an unguarded crossing on a county road. The crossing is marked by “passive railroad crossbuck signs,” but no flashing lights, bells or crossing gates to warn people of oncoming trains. Furthermore, the road crosses the tracks at what is described as “an extreme angle,” which plaintiff alleged created a hazardous intersection that was made even more dangerous by visual obstacles, such as overgrown vegetation.
Plaintiff presented evidence of numerous “near-misses” at this intersection before this fatal crash in 2012. The crossing, decedent’s widow argued, did not meet basic industry safety standards (specifically because they did not trim the vegetation that had become overgrown around the crossing), the railroad company defendant knew that and yet failed to seize on numerous opportunities to correct this danger. Continue reading →