Man run over by train sues Norfolk Southern for not stopping in time

Kelly Holleran Jul. 6, 2009, 8:32am

An Illinois man who says he was run over by a train is suing Norfolk Southern Railway Company and two of its employees who allegedly failed to stop the train in time.

John V. Whitt filed a suit June 25 in Madison County Circuit Court against Norfolk Southern Railway Company, Paul J. Holden and Travis H. Atchison.

Whitt says he was attending the Staunton Homecoming adjacent to the Norfolk Southern railway tracks in Macoupin County on June 29, 2007, when the incident occurred.

"Sometime on or near mid-night on June 29, 2007, Plaintiff was attacked and rendered unconscious and left on the NS railroad tracks at or near mile marker 449," the complaint says.

At the same time, Holden, an engineer for Norfolk Southern, and Atchison, a conductor for the company, were operating a Norfolk Southern train south toward Staunton when they struck Whitt, according to the complaint.

"The railroad tracks immediately north of mile marker 449 are straight and flat," the suit states. "On June 29, 2007 the moon was at or near its fullest stage and the sky was clear. The then existing weather conditions at or near mid-night in the area of mile marker 449 was such that an individual keeping a careful look out on moving southbound train could and should have been able to see and recognize an individual upon the tracks in enough to time to stop, slow, and/or to sound a warning."

Because of the incident, Whitt says his head, face, neck, back, shoulders, arms and legs were injured, he endured severe pain and suffering, incurred medical costs of more than $100,000 and lost his ability to enjoy life.

He blames Norfolk Southern, Holden and Atchison for failing to keep a careful lookout, failing to slow their speed, failing to exercise reasonable care, failing to avoid striking Whitt and failing to stop their train.

Whitt is seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Joseph R. Dulle of Stone, Leyton and Gershman in St. Louis will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-668.

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