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Suit Filed for Passengers and Crew in Amtrak Wreck
Lawsuits were filed today by a St. Louis law firm, Schlichter Bogard and Denton on behalf of four passengers and for two Amtrak crew members involved in the collision of an Amtrak train with a truck loaded with rock on Monday, June 27th near Mendon, Missouri in Chariton County. The Amtrak train was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago.
The suit alleges that Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF), Amtrak, and MS Contracting, LLC, a trucking company, are responsible for causing the collision. Four people were killed and over 100 were taken to area hospitals.
"This is a tragedy that would never have happened, if the railroads had acted on warnings they had for years. This was a highly dangerous crossing, without flashers, with very steep inclines, loose gravel, and limited visibility, and a train going about 90 miles per hour," said Jerry Schlichter of Schlichter Bogard & Denton, who represents the passengers and crewmembers.
According to the suit, the passengers are Sherri Schwanz of Lansing, KS, Kimberly Howard of Lawrence, KS, Noel Lucero of Wichita, KS and Allen Gallaway of Andover, KS. The crew members are Brian Marra and Chris Marzullo both of Chicago, IL, who were Amtrak conductors on the train.
The suit alleges, that for years residents of Chariton County reported this as a highly dangerous crossing, particularly for slow moving farm tractors and heavy trucks because of its steep inclines, loose gravel on the approach, impaired field of vision, and high-speed trains.
The suit also states that a farmer, Mike Spencer, of Mendon, MO took a video of the crossing, with a train passing, approximately two weeks before the incident and warned BNSF, which owns the tracks, of the dangers. The lawsuit alleges that the BNSF failed to properly maintain the crossing, failed to upgrade the level of protection to flashers or gates, and failed to warn people of the dangers.
The suit also states that the Missouri Department of Transportation, over a year prior to the incident, recommended that gates and flashers be installed because of its danger, but the BNSF failed to follow that recommendation.
Mr. Schlichter added, "We now know that all of this suffering, and the losses, could have been avoided if the railroads had simply acted upon what the local people were telling them over and over was needed to avoid such a tragedy."