Safety and OSHA News

Railroad sues two of its employees for train crash

A large U.S. railroad is saying “pay up” to two of its employees, claiming they caused a crash that destroyed equipment and sent four people to the hospital. 

Norfolk Southern Railway Co. is suing Kevin Tobergte of Ft. Thomas, KY, and Andrew Hall of Ft. Mitchell, KY, in connection with the March 18 collision of train 175 and train M 74. Tobergte was the locomotive engineer and Hall was the conductor of train 175.

The collision in Georgetown, KY, destroyed two locomotives, derailed 13 cars and injured four Norfolk Southern employees. A fire forced nearby residents to evacuate because of the crash.

Norfolk Southern says Tobergte and Hall were responsible for the train’s safe operation which included complying with all federal regulations and railroad operating and safety rules.

The lawsuit claims:

  • as train 175 approached Georgetown, a signal displayed an “approach” indication which required Tobergte and Hall to be prepared to stop before the next signal
  • the engineer and conductor failed to begin reduction in speed so the train could be stopped at the next signal, and
  • they failed to stop train 175 in advance of a red stop signal.

Norfolk Southern claims Tobergte and Hall were negligent for failing to:

  • maintain a reasonable lookout for signals that govern movement of the train
  • begin timely reduction in speed in accordance with rules
  • pay attention to their duties
  • properly control the movement, course and speed reduction of the train
  • announce to the dispatcher that they had placed their train in an emergency brake application so other trains nearby could be notified, and
  • declare an emergency that they had run past a red stop signal so other nearby trains could take precautions.

The railroad seeks damages for itself and third parties, including:

  • damage to locomotives, rail cars, tracks, right of way, and communications and signal equipment
  • cost of removal of diesel fuel released into the soil or ground water
  • damage to property of adjacent land owners, and
  • costs to Norfolk Southern customers for delayed freight shipment.

The lawsuit doesn’t list a monetary amount, except that it exceeds the minimum of $75,000 necessary to file in federal court.

(Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Kevin Tobergte and Andrew Hall, U.S. Dist. Crt. E.D. KY, No. 5:18-cv-207, filed 4/5/18)

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