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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Family of Train Victim Faces Bystander’s Suit

(CN) - A woman who was hit by the flying body of a Chicago man after a train accident can sue the dead man's family, an Illinois appeals court ruled.

On a rainy Saturday morning in 2008, Hiroyuki Joho was using a crosswalk over the train tracks to get from one platform to the other at the Edgebrook Metra station, on the corner of Lehigh and Devon Avenues in Chicago. The 18-year-old was carrying an umbrella and computer bag as a bright blue train bore down on him at 73 mph, sounding its horn and flashing its lights.

Witnesses were unsure of whether Joho realized the train was coming, but he was smiling at commuters on the opposite platform when the train hit him.

The train sent Joho's 100 feet up, hitting the backside of a commuter on the platform, 58-year-old Gayane Zokhrabov. She suffered a fractured wrist and leg, as well as an injured shoulder.

Zokhrabov sued Joho's family for negligence, alleging that he owed a duty of care to watch for trains in the station. Joho's mother, defending his estate, argued that he owed no such duty.

Though a trial court said the accident was tragic and bizarre, but not foreseeable, the Chicago-based appeals court revived Zokhrabov's case.

"It was reasonably foreseeable that the onrushing Amtrak train would strike, kill and fling his body down the tracks and onto the passenger platform where Zokhrabov was waiting for the next scheduled Metra departure," Justice Margaret Stanton McBride wrote for the court.

"We find that the trial court erred in concluding that Joho could not reasonably foresee that his negligence in the active train station would cause injury to someone standing in the passenger waiting area," she added.

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