Boy Who Lost Foot Loses $3.9 Million Judgment

     (CN) – A 12-year-old boy who lost his foot while trying to jump on a moving train cannot keep a $3.9 million judgment he won from the railroad companies, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled.
     Dominic Choate, a Chicago Ridge resident, filed a negligence claim against CSX Transportation Inc., Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co.; and Baltimore and Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad Co.
     In 2003, Choate met five of his fellow 12- and 13-year-old friends, including his girlfriend, in the parking lot of an apartment building.
     A freight train passed on the north side of the parking lot. The group waited for it to pass, but then Choate and another friend tried to jump onto the train.
     Choate was trying to impress his friends, especially his girlfriend, according to the appellate opinion.
     Choate’s friend gave up after one try, but Choate tried three times. He lost his grip on the ladder, and while he doesn’t remember what happened next, his girlfriend saw his left foot slip under the wheels of the train. His leg had to be amputated below the knee.
     Choate argued that the defendant failed to fence the area post proper warning signs, although there was warning sign that he had not seen.
     The defendants countered that jumping onto a moving train is an obvious danger.
     The trial court ruled in the Choate’s favor and awarded him almost $3.9 million, but the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the decision.
     “A landowner has no duty to remedy a dangerous condition if it presents obvious risks that children generally of the plaintiff’s age would be expected to appreciate and avoid,” Justice Charles Freeman wrote on the court’s behalf.
     “It has never been a part of our law that a landowner may be liable to a trespasser who proceeds to wantonly expose himself to unmistakable danger in total disregard of a fully understood risk, simply for the thrill of the venture,” he added.

%d bloggers like this: