Union Pacific's motion for new trial to be heard Dec. 10

Amelia Flood Nov. 22, 2010, 7:30am


Collignon Gunn

A move by Union Pacific Railroad Company to set aside a $1 million verdict in a combined personal injury and wrongful death case has been pushed back.

The motion had been set for hearing Nov. 24 before Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian.

Now, according to the suit's docket sheet, the motion will be heard Dec. 10 at 9 a.m.

Union Pacific argues that evidence that plaintiff Guy Webb and his deceased brother James Webb Jr. had used the drug "Ecstasy" before the truck they were riding in was hit by one of the company's trains should have been allowed into the suit's September trial.

James Webb Jr.'s daughter, Misty Webb, originally filed suit against Union Pacific and Guy Webb in 2008.

Misty Webb filed suit as administrator of her father's estate.

A year earlier, James Webb Jr. died when he and his brother were struck by a Union Pacific train in Iron County, Mo.

Guy Webb, who was driving the truck that was hit, sustained serious injuries.

Misty Webb settled her claim against her uncle, and Guy Webb joined the suit against the railroad.

During the September trial, the plaintiffs argued that Union Pacific directed its crews not to blow a whistle at the crossing where the accident happened.

The Webbs' attorneys told jurors that the railroad had allowed vegetation to block sight lines leading up to the crossing and that
it had considered cost over the safety of those crossing its tracks.

The railroad attempted to argue that the crossing was a private crossing but that argument was scuttled by Matoesian several times.

The defendant also argued that Guy Webb pulled into the train rather than backing away from it prior to the collision.

Crash footage taken by a camera mounted to the front of the train was played several times during the trial.

Eventually, the jury found in favor of both Webbs.

It awarded Misty Webb $30,000 and her uncle $1.25 million.

The railroad filed to set aside the verdict and for a new trial Oct.

In that motion, Union Pacific argued evidence of the Webb brothers' drug use had been unfairly barred from trial.

The railroad also contends that Matoesian wrongly denied the railroad a chance to argue about the nature of public versus private
rail crossings.

The judge declared at one point in arguments about the issue that "a crossing is a crossing."

"This profoundly erroneous assumption is the foundation for numerous trial errors, the cumulative effect of which denied Union Pacific a fair trial," the motion for a new trial reads.

The plaintiffs have yet to respond to the motion.

Thomas Jones and Harlan Harla represent Union Pacific.

Misty Webb is represented by Amy Collignon Gunn and John Simon.

Eric and Jon Carlson and others represent Guy Webb. Former Madison
County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron also sat at the plaintiffs' table during the suit's trial and made arguments on points including the railroad crossing issue.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-1139.

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Organizations in this Story

Union Pacific
1400 Douglas St
Omaha, NE 68179

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