Fayette County woman files personal injury case in St. Clair County

By Ann Knef | Feb 6, 2006

Vandalia resident Elizabeth A. Dufresne suffered a severe brain injury after her car was hit by a train while leaving the town's YMCA parking lot in 2004.

Nearly two years later, she filed a lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court Jan. 27 against CSX Transportation of Chicago, Family YMCA of Fayette County and building owner Robert DePaolo of Vandalia.

Dufresne, now known as Elizabeth Hopkins, claims CSX was negligent for failing to signal its approach.

"CSX failed to ring bell, sound horn, sound a whistle, or otherwise sound a warning at a distance of at least 1,320 feet from the crossing and keep ringing until having crossed through the crossing," the complaint states.

The accident happened Jan. 29, 2004, while she was pulling away from a parking space at the YMCA on 5th Street in Vandalia.

She also claims the railroad crossing failed to meet safety standards.

"CSX violated its own rules and regulations as related to the safe and proper operation of its train and railroad system," the suit states.

Hopkins, who is seeking at least $200,000 in damages, is represented by Nancy R. Richards of Kujawski & Nowak in O'Fallon.

She claims injuries to her soft tissue, ligaments, tendons, bones, nerves, muscles and connective tissues of the spine, neck, shoulder and head.

"...She suffers from post concussion syndrome, chronic headaches, dizziness, decreased vision and memory loss," the complaint states.

Among other things, Hopkins claims the YMCA and DePaolo are negligent for failing to install guard rails to barricade the area surrounding the railroad tracks and for not having adequate lighting.

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