Cement truck driver sues over railroad crossing injuries

Kelly Holleran Nov. 29, 2010, 3:23am

Randy Pruden filed a lawsuit Nov. 8 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Keiffer Bros. Construction Co., Norfolk Southern Railway Company and Shane Hubbard, claiming the cement truck he was driving was struck by a train at a private crossing.

Pruden claims the accident occurred on Oct. 26, 2009, when he drove a truck for a roadway project to extend Enterprise Road in Mount Carmel.

As part of the project, Pruden had to exit through a private railroad, crossing over NSRC tracks -- a crossing that lacked proper construction and that did not have appropriate warning devices or flaggers, according to the complaint.

"Plaintiff was legally driving the concrete truck through the Crossing as directed by Defendant Kieffer Bros. when, without warning, a NSRC train operated by Defendant Hubbard crashed into the concrete truck," the suit states.

In addition to his injuries, Pruden incurred medical costs; experienced pain, suffering and mental anguish; and lost earnings and his earning capacity, the complaint says. He also says he endured visible results of his injuries and lost his enjoyment of life.

He blames NSRC for causing his injuries, saying the railroad failed to construct a reasonable crossing, failed to maintain the crossing in a safe condition, failed to clear vegetation, failed to provide adequate sight lines for approaching motorists and failed to require its crews to sound audible warnings at private crossing. In addition, the railroad negligently failed to allocate funds to adequately address safety issues at the private crossing, failed to properly mark the crossing to warn motorists, failed to evaluate dangers at the crossing, failed to provide additional warnings that the crossing was ultrahazardous and failed to sound a proper horn warning, according to the complaint.

Hubbard, who was operating the train at the time of the collision, negligently failed to sound a proper horn warning, failed to keep a careful lookout and failed to slow or brake its train to avoid the collision, the suit states.

Kieffer Bros. negligently failed to maintain a safe premises, failed to maintain reasonably safe protection at the crossing, failed to construct a safe crossing, failed to warn approaching motorists of the unsafe condition at the crossing, failed to alert traffic of an approaching train, failed to spend money to make the crossing safe, failed to notify NSRC of the train that struck Pruden, failed to exercise control over the work site and failed to protect construction workers from dangers associated with the crossing, the complaint says.

In his three-count complaint, Pruden seeks a judgment of more than $225,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Robert C. Sullivan and Jose M. Bautista of Sullivan, Bautista, Morgan, Allen and Chronic in Kansas City and Thomas Q. Keefe Jr. of Belleville will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-585.

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