Norfolk Southern worker sues over collision with concrete truck at private crossing

Kelly Holleran Nov. 3, 2011, 3:35am

A man has filed suit against the concrete truck driver who he claims struck the train in which he was riding, causing him to sustain spinal injuries.

Douglas W. Whitaker claims he was riding in a locomotive engine around Mt. Carmel on Oct. 26, 2009, when a concrete truck driven by defendant Randy Pruden entered a private crossing immediately before the train also entered the crossing. As a result, the concrete truck and the train collided, according to the complaint filed Oct. 25 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Because of the collision, Whitaker sustained back injuries; endured severe pain, suffering and mental anguish; and incurred medical costs, the suit states. In addition, he lost wages, the complaint says.

Whitaker blames Pruden for causing the collision, saying he negligently failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to slow his concrete truck to avoid a collision and failed to yield the right-of-way.

At the time of the collision, Pruden was working for defendants Kieffer Bros. and IMI Southwest. The two companies were in the process of constructing a roadway near the private crossing, Whitaker claims.

However, in its attempts to build the roadway, Kieffer Bros. negligently failed to maintain safe premises, failed to maintain safe protection at the railroad crossing, failed to construct a safe crossing and failed to warn motorists of the dangerous conditions at the crossing, among other negligent acts, according to the complaint.

IMI negligently failed to properly train its employees, failed to exercise adequate supervision over its workers, failed to warn train crews of the dangerous condition at the crossing, failed to alert passing trains that concrete trucks were driving over the crossing and failed to protect Whitaker from injuries at the railroad crossing, the suit states.

In addition to Pruden, Kieffer Bros. and IMI, Whitaker names Norfolk Southern Railway Company as a defendant, saying it negligently failed to construct a safe crossing, failed to maintain the crossing in a safe condition, failed to allocate funds to address safety concerns at the crossing and failed to properly mark the crossing.

"The subject crossing was not properly constructed and did not have any appropriate warning devices, flaggers or other forms of protection," the suit states.

In his four-count suit, Whitaker is seeking a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

He will be represented by Ryan Brennan of The Brennan Law Firm in Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 11-L-604.

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