(CN) – A driver for a North Carolina trucking company negligently blocked a rail road crossing, causing the March 9, 2015 crash that injured 55 passengers on an Amtrak train bound for New York, a lawsuit filed Friday claims.
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation and CSX Transportation Inc. filed their compliant in the Greenville, N.C. Federal Court.
In it they claim Turner Transfer, also known as Guy M. Turner Incorporated, was negligent in its training and supervision of its driver, nonparty John Devin Black, whom it directed to drive a three-trailer long tractor-trailer full of industrial electrical systems from Clayton, N.C. to New Jersey.
On March 9, 2015, the complaint says, Black was driving his over-sized load with an escort of two civilian vehicles and a North Carolina Highway Patrol car. Both civilian vehicles were driven by Turner Transfer employees.
At all times, “Turner Transfer knew or should have known that its activities were inherently dangerous, but nevertheless failed to take reasonable precautions to avoid injury or ensure that such precautions were taken,” the plaintiffs say.
The railroad crossing at which the accident took place is located on N.C. Highway 903/125 in Halifax, N.C. The railroads say the crossing is clearly marked with signs that read, “Do Not Stop on Tracks.” However, Black and his escorts failed to head that directive, the plaintiffs say.
Black was attempting to make a left turn onto the U.S. -301 North Bypass, but couldn’t do so. Despite the multiple failures, no one bothered to notify either Amtrak or CSX to tell them a large truck was blocking the crossing, the complaint says.
Shortly before 12:30 p.m., Amtrak train 80, carrying 213 passengers and an eight person crew, came around a bend and collided with the truck, and the impact caused the locomotive and baggage car of the train derailed.
The railroads seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages on claims of negligence, gross negligence, negligence in hiring. They also seek to indemnified for any personal injury lawsuits resulting from the collision.
The plaintiffs are represented by John Millberg and Meredith Woods of Millberg, Gordon Stewart PLLC of Raleigh. N.C.
Representatives for the defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.