Pedestrian Case Examples

Joe Sayler represented a ten-year-old boy who lost both of his legs in St. Paul, Minnesota. More information can be found here. The boy was playing by BNSF’s tracks in area where the railroad was well aware that elementary children were routinely playing and even building forts. There were also highly visible footpaths in the area crossing over the tracks that had been used for over fifty years. Other injuries and deaths had occurred in the area, but still the railroad refused to construct fences or take any engineering action—despite a Minnesota law requiring them to fence off their tracks and right-of-way. By determining all of this in discovery, Sayler was able to recover enough money for the boy so all of his medical and living needs will be taken care of for the rest of his life. BNSF still has not fenced the tracks off.

Brittney Silva was killed just weeks before her high school graduation, when she was tragically struck by a train at a skewed crossing in San Leandro, California. Through diligent and hard-fought work, we uncovered that the crossing was hazardous to pedestrians and supposed to be fixed several years earlier with free funds from the federal government, but the railroad instead sat on these funds instead of fixing the crossing. Working backwards from a single picture, we were also able to prove that the pedestrian warnings at the crossing were improperly installed and did not provide adequate warning to pedestrians, which violated California and Federal laws. Also, the railroad was quick to accuse Brittney of talking on her cell phone, telling the media as much — but we were able to discredit this accusation by uncovering records and doing an accident reconstruction. There had also been other pedestrian deaths at the same crossing. The crossing has since been fixed and updated with proper pedestrian safety warnings.

The Florida East Coast Railway runs from Jacksonville to Miami along Florida’s highly populated coast. Because its tracks run through communities and cut neighborhoods in half, numerous pedestrian deaths and injuries have occurred. Federal Railroad Administration statistics show that over pedestrians have been killed on FEC’s tracks in the last ten years, or about one person for every three miles of track it operates on. In comparison, FEC has experienced more pedestrian fatalities in on its rights-of-way in the last ten years than CSX and Amtrak combined—who operate thousands of miles of track in Florida compared to FEC’s 387. The FRA has studied the situation and declared that “trespassing is an epidemic on FEC’s right-of-way” and recommended that FEC construct fences or other barriers to protect pedestrians. The study has been publicly reported and has been discussed at the FRA’s trespass prevention workshops, which FEC attended, along with Class 1 railroads such as BNSF, Union Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Despite the study, the recommendations for fencing, and the workshops, FEC has not fenced its track and pedestrians continue to get killed. Soon All Aboard Florida — which is owned by the same hedge fund as FEC — will begin operating high-speed trains on the same tracks and corridor that FEC operates its freight on. Bolt Hoffer Boyd attorney Joe Sayler has multiple current cases with FEC. Contact us if you are interested in more information.