Thursday, July 17, 2014

Things I don't understand, #13,294

You may recall the 2012 train accident in Ellicott City, MD that killed two young women.  Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr, both 19 and both just about to return to their respective colleges for the fall semester, were doing what countless other people have done in the little town for years...sitting on the CSX Railroad bridge that overlooks Main Street, passing the time, as people will do.  They were tweeting pictures of their view of the town.  "Drinking on top of the Ellicott City sign," read one tweet. "Looking down on old ec," read another.

And then the train came along at 25 miles per hour. It was was 3,000 feet long and weighed 9,000 tons. The train derailed and the load of coal it carried spilled over, asphyxiating the young women.

At first, the speculation ran towards the notion that the engineer saw Elizabeth and Rose, hit the brake, and tried to stop the train, causing the derailment, but that seems not to be the case.  We can't be sure what the train driver saw, but this week the National Transportation Safety Board released a long report about their investigation of the accident.  One item brought out is that a break in the rail, a break that was somehow missed when the track was inspected the day before the accident, likely was the cause.  This is a long and curvy track, and it's interesting to note that it is part of the very first commercial rail line in America, running from Baltimore to Ellicott City.

In spite of the fact that the two women were on railroad property at the time, "The families and our attorneys are determined to hold CSX fully accountable," said Eric Nass, father of Elizabeth. The Nass family is represented by by the law firm Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, which specializes in rail disaster litigation nationwide.

(Tell me, sir, was there a day while you sat in law school, and you decided on which type of suit to pursue as a living?  Did "I'll sue railroads!" just come to you out of the blue?)

According to the story in the Baltimore SUN, "Ronald Goldman, lead trial counsel at Baum Hedlund, said given all the problems noted with the local tracks, the families want a "public apology" from CSX for their daughters' deaths.

"CSX owes this family a public apology for what occurred, rather than hiding behind arcane trespass statutes," Goldman said.
He said the families also would seek a financial settlement.

Arcane means "understood by few; mysterious or secret."
Trespass means "the crime of going on someone's land without permission."

Crash aftermath
Sorry as I am that these two young ladies lost their lives, I don't see how the families have a claim against the railroad upon whose property they were sitting, without permission, at the time of the tragedy.  If someone were to walk into my house without my permission and cut his finger off with the Ginsu knife he was using without permission, I would not feel like it were my fault.

But just to be safe, I am checking with the legal team at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman.  Their website brags about recovering over 1.2 billion dollars through over 8,000 cases successfully handled since 1973.  They must be really good at this.

No comments: