BNSF pays witnesses to testify in train deaths

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 26, 2009 - 12:03 AM

The verdict is a year old. The train-car crash was six years ago. But witnesses are still surfacing, some receiving a "reward" to testify.

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elwher2Jun. 26, 09 7:30 AM

Did the train veer off the tracks and strike this vehicle? If not, why is there a lawsuit? The plaintiff should be charged legal fees from both sides plus court costs. And the parents should have made sure the kids knew to look for a train before driving over railroad tracks.

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wild4mnJun. 26, 09 7:41 AM

Could the train have stopped? Were the arms malfunctioning? If the answer to both isn't yes why should the parents get a dime from BNSF?

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randy3237Jun. 26, 09 8:01 AM

TRAINS DON T STOP AS FAST AS A CAR IT TAKES A LONG DISTANCE ESPECIALLY ONE THAT IS GOING 60 MPH THERE JUST LIKE A SHIP THEY DON T STOP ON A DIME

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AngusmeatsJun. 26, 09 8:06 AM

BNSF was on site of the accident less then two hours after it happened. They downloaded data specific to this accident, and then lost, tampered, and/or destroyed it. They went on to withhold other evidence during the trial. Whether or not the gates were working is not known, except to BNSF, who took that information and hid it.

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rapturizerJun. 26, 09 8:51 AM

So its ok for police to pay for information (via rewards for the conviction of a supposedly guilty party), but it becomes ethically questionable when a party in a lawsuit does the exact same thing? To me, this seems like a double standard.

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dillrodJun. 26, 09 8:58 AM

"attorneys for the victims' families have asked for $45 million in sanctions against the railroad". I'm sure that will be of great comfort to the grieving families. Interesting how they arrived at that number. What's the attorneys' cut?

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jimsteinJun. 26, 09 9:04 AM

This is about the most disjointed, poorly written story I have ever seen. What are sanctions? Who are these paid witnesses? Clarify who is paying them. Why is BNSF paying them if the don't approve of paying witnesses? This story raises more questions than it answers! Come on Strib, are you recruiting reporters from a high school journalism class? Are all the editors gone now or just not doing their job?

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shakinstreetJun. 26, 09 9:10 AM

A railroad crossing is an inherently dangerous place to be. Trains have right-of-way, since they cannot panic stop. Exercise caution and judgment, gate or no gate, unless you want to put your life in the hands of the circuit board controlling the lights or arm, if any.

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duckman716Jun. 26, 09 9:27 AM

There's a lot of 2nd guessing the jury here. This is what they found: a) BNSF was 90% responsible for the accident b) The crossing gate probably malfunctioned c) there had been a previous 911 call about the gate malfunctioning. BNSF did not check it out. d) accident reconstruction experts said it was not possible the car drove around the gates, given where it wound up and the other evidence at the scene. e) BNSF removed the data from the crossing gate's computer before it could be checked and tampered with the data (according to testimony). (a) was the jury's finding, one has to assume the jury believed (b) through (e). How many of us stop to look for a train when approaching a crossing where the arm is up? So if you accept the jury's finding that BNSF was negligent and then covered it up, do you find the award excessive? If you don't accept the jury's finding, have you read the transcript of the trial? And how does it look now that BNSF is paying witnesses?

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monkeynutsJun. 26, 09 9:41 AM

You are obviously connected to the families side of the case, likely one of their many lawyers. NOT ALL of the experts agree the gates did not work, only the experts paid for by the families say they didn't work.

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