Kansas railroad conductor files FELA suit in St. Clair County

By Ann Knef | Feb 13, 2006

An Isabel, Kan. man who works as a conductor for Union Pacific Railroad filed suit in St. Clair County for injuries sustained in an Oklahoma train wreck.

Wayne Day claims he suffered a torn left rotator cuff and post traumatic stress disorder, among other things, after the train he was operating en route from Pratt, Kan. to Dalhart, Texas, struck a tractor/trailer and derailed at a crossing in Texas County, Okla.

Day is represented by attorneys Rick D. Holtsclaw and Bradford C. Kendall of DeFeo Holtscla Kenall in Kansas City, Mo. and Eugene C. Menges of Menges Law Offices in Belleville.

According to the complaint, venue is proper because Union Pacific transacts business and maintains an office in St. Clair County.

Harris Trucking of Dowell, Ill. and its owner, Danny Harris, also are named as co-defendants.

The collision took place Feb. 10, 2004, near the intersection of Interstate 54 and County Road 33.

Day claims Harris was negligent for failing to obey crossing signs and for operating his commercial vehicle in excess of the maximum allowable hours permitted under governmental regulation.

The suit claims the trucking firm is negligent for failing to provide its driver with adequate training in hauling large loads. It also claims that Harris had an unsafe driving record.

The suit does not indicate what Harris was hauling.

He is seeking damages for past and future medical expenses, lost income, injuries, permanent diminishment of general health and strength and loss of ability to perform normal household services.

Seeking damages under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), Day claims Union Pacific failed to install adequate signage at the crossing. He also claims the railroad failed to spend a reasonable amount of funds to address the hazards, even though it knew about the unsafe conditions.

"Defendant Union Pacific failed to issue track bulletins or to otherwise warn plaintiff about the dangerous conditions at the crossing, when defendant knew, or by exercise of reasonable care should have known, that failing to do so was likely to result in injury to plaintiff," according to the complaint.

The complaint also states that Union Pacific was negligent for not equipping the train with adequate safety devices.

"The locomotive was unsafe in that it did not provide adequate protection to its occupants from unnecessary harm to life and limb in the event of a collision at a grade crossing," the complaint states.

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