Norfolk Southern Sues Two Employees For Wreck

Hardcoaler Apr 6, 2018

  1. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    April 6, 2018 LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A railway company is suing two men it says failed to prevent a train crash and derailment. The Norfolk Southern lawsuit says locomotive engineer Kevin Tobergte and conductor Andrew Hall failed to reduce a train’s speed and prevent its collision with another train.

    The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the March 18 crash in Georgetown destroyed two Norfolk Southern locomotives, derailed 13 cars and caused a fire and temporary evacuation. The lawsuit says the men are liable for damages to railway property and costs related to removing spilled fuel. The Lexington Herald-Leader says lawyer Robert Cetrulo filed the suit Thursday in Lexington, Kentucky, and declined to comment. It also says Tobergte and Hall could not be reached. [End]
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ouch. :( This may end up reducing the desires of many potential train crew employees.
     
  3. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    This seems a rather unusual move, vs. internal discipline or firing. It’s not like an engineer and conductor are going to have anywhere near the pockets required to make NS remotely close to whole on the incident... I wonder why they’re going to the trouble of a lawsuit?
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would bet it is to establish a precedent, which if successful gives them a really nice legal CYA tool.
     
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  5. trainman-ho

    trainman-ho TrainBoard Member

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    In my view the employer is responsible for the actions of it's employees, unless said employees are engaged in illegal activity.

    Making a mistake or failing to see a warning is not illegal....yet. Although this sort of court action could, if the employer succeeds in court,cause that very thing to come to be. Labor will carry all the responsibility while business owners make the profits!!

    Jim
     
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  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    It's a surprising precedent. Many railroad operating rules were first inked in blood after lessons were learned and only the foolhardy would take them lightly, as their lives and lives of others hang in the immediate balance. If this pair were together in the cab and neither took note of a signal indication or an order, it's difficult to shift the blame. This was no minor incident.

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8131182-181/two-trains-collide-in-kentucky?sba=AAS&artslide=0
     
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  7. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    I am wondering what the justification is with the Railway Labor Act and the craft contracts that cover each category of employee. I suspect with the mess that DC has been for the past year + that NS thinks they have a opening to screw employees even more than they already do.
     
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  8. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It may well just be a matter of establishing legal responsibility and providing some degree of protection from corporate liability.
     
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  9. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    I could be mistaken - I don't see how a company can not be responsible for the actions of the company's employees - from the Board Room to the bathroom and every position in between. While NS may think they are shifting responsibility, I don't see that they can.

    I am not a lawyer and it's been quite a while since I stayed in a Holiday Inn.
     
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  10. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    What I suspect is an attempt to establish (via courts) that the employees acted contrary to training, policy or rules. Just don't see how they could be looking to recoup losses.
     
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  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I agree. Perhaps the action is being made to reinforce notice that personal responsibility is an expectation and that those who fail may prevail in the courts, but they'll be pulled through an expensive and deep legal briar patch getting there. CR Engineer Ricky Gates served four years in prison after the 1987 Amtrak/CR crash in MD, but there were fatalities and he had smoked marijuana. However, it confirmed a legal precedent for contributing to an incident.

    But, like mmi16, I've not stayed at a Holiday Inn in years and have no legal degree. I hope the media follows up. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
     
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  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is the precedent I was alluding to earlier. Once established, I am certain any future incidents will about this decision, trying to deflect or minimize payouts to anyone(s) suing the RR.
     
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  13. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    The other thing that it will encourage is for the Crafts to start suing the Carriers for improper training and Supervision. Especially improper Supervision with the way the carriers have been cutting field level officials.

    Nothing happens in a vacuum without a response. Be careful what you ask for, you may not really like what it is you asked for when you get it.
     

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