A LIFE LOST IN THE FOG

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2010 - 12:24 PM

Two judges rule BNSF mishandled evidence in fatal two-train crash. Railroad says it won the case after judge dropped $10 million in sanctions.

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fonegirlDec. 6, 10 8:20 AM

I could just cry! My heart aches for this family. God bless them!

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vikingcarverDec. 6, 10 9:02 AM

"When it comes to the legal system, whoever has the deepest pockets usually ends up winning," No fooling! I hope this story winds up as a made for TV movie or an episode of 48 hours, or something.

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strudeauDec. 6, 1010:51 AM

My husband is medically retired from a railroad, not the one in this article. He was repeatedly exposed to unsafe working conditions, until he became medically unable to perform his job any longer. Ever since railroads began in this country they've received preferential treatment and their own special laws so that there are lawyers who only practice RR law. You will rarely see a case go to court; a settlement will be reached "on the courthouse steps". For good reason one should settle--juries making the decision that it was no one's fault...how ridiculous. I'm very sorry for this family's loss.

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anotherbofhDec. 6, 1011:54 AM

Nothing sickens me more than when people act above the law and get away with it...

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teguzcoDec. 6, 10 3:08 PM

While I can't pass judgment on the outcome of the case in point, I can say that ATSF's decision (or that of its counsel, perhaps) to bring a counterclaim in the death action was over the top.

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piznatpdDec. 6, 10 3:09 PM

This tragic accident sounds just like that...a tragic accident. I am not sure if anyone is really "at fault" in this case. Maybe the railroad could have fixed the light, but maybe it went out the night before or maybe the engineer should have used better judgement and left that load for the next day or a day that was safe to travel. Sometimes the legal system causes much more of a headache than it is worth, and that is to be expected in cases like these. It is a gamble when you sue. Finally this article only tells half of the story, the railroad company has a story to tell also, they lost several great engineers and a lot of equipment.

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9moonsDec. 6, 10 4:16 PM

Investigative journalsim. Thumbs up Star-Tribune. And to ProPublica, a great investigative journalism organization. This country needs more of this, especially investigating Corporate America and how they've bought our government.

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rulefollowerDec. 6, 10 9:05 PM

Very fair and balanced article. The corrupt railroad industry needs to be exposed and held accountable. While this family is still haunted by death years later, the railroad officials/attorneys are sleeping peacefully as they put another notch in their belt. Something is very wrong with this picture! Made for TV movie...you betcha! That family deserves something!

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shiloh12Dec. 6, 1010:59 PM

This should be an eye opener for all in connection with what happened with Metra in California. First off, Metra spokeswoman was asked to step down when she blantantly accused the engineer, secondly the Metra dispatcher stated he gave the crew notification seconds prior to collision and the FRA and National Transportation Safety Board were not smart enough to realize, they really hung themselves when they stated the tapes pulled proved the Metra dispatcher did no such thing. In short, signal malfunction coupled w/complacency of not only the railroads, but the the FRA and NTSF, but its easier to pass the buck and blame the deceased engineer. Overt public outrage from them not having safety provisions in place and feds not insuring railroads doing so, to blaming the deceased engineer. Thats about as low as they come. I reported an individual. Proper protocol to call authorities. It was not done. Im relieved early, train brought in, pulled tapes, erased radio tapes of report. Individual I reported was found dead 4-5 hours later. This was not released to the press. However another rail worker discovered the lifeless body and this was reported to the press. And we cannot use our phones because of what THEY say happened in california. I could have called. Cried the trip home and so hard trying to drive home I had to pull over, I still cry. Rail Safety? Homeland Security? Since Buffett took over BNSF, the payroll and crew planning of american jobs has been outsourced to foreign entities that are insulted if you ask them if they are an american based company. oh yes most definetly. Sad isnt it?

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Smokey48Dec. 7, 1012:38 AM

The railroad would have professional counsel representing them in court. These professionals would know full well that you can't enter an exhibit into the record that you know to be altered or not the original piece of evidence without prior knowledge given to the judge and the plaintiff. This unethical treatment of evidence speaks loudly as to the railforad's culpubility in my opion. The 10 million dollar sanction should have remained in the record until a jury verdict rendered the verdict guilty or not guilty.

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