Madison - St. Clair Record

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Parents sue Norfolk Southern Railway following son's death

By Molly English-Bowers | Feb 11, 2016

EDWARDSVILLE – An Illinois couple is suing a railroad company and two employees, alleging their negligence caused the death of the their son.

Charles and Clara Rayphole, individually and as co-administrators of the estate of Nicholas Rayphole, filed the lawsuit Jan. 29 in Madison County Circuit Court against Norfolk Southern Railway Co., Bryan Dale Woolard of Decatur and Jacob T. Wallis of Dalton City, alleging negligence, wrongful death and damages under the Survival Act.

According to the complaint, on Feb. 14, 2014, Nicholas Rayphole was a passenger in a pickup truck being driven westbound on St. John's Road in Litchfield. The truck was continuing westbound on St. John's Road when, allegedly without warning, an NSRC train collided with the truck at an NSRC railroad grade crossing. Nicholas Rayphole sustained fatal injuries.

The suit alleges NSRC failed to adequately maintain the black-and-white cross buck signs at the crossing because the signs were old and in disrepair and provided little warning to motorists, failed to install automatic gates and flashing light signals, failed to keep the right of way reasonably clear of brush, shrubbery, trees, weeds and other unnecessary obstructions, failed to stop or slow the train in time to avoid the accident, and failed to sound a proper audible warning, among other allegations.

The complaint also alleges the conductor and engineer did not operate the train in a safe and reasonable manner.

The plaintiffs allege their son's death led to medical bills, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, mental anguish and loss of the reasonable value of companionship their son provided.   

Charles and Clara Rayphole seek a jury trial as well as $50,000 from each defendant and for each count, general damages, court costs and other additional relief the court deems appropriate. They are represented by attorneys Randy Gori, Chelsea L. Fischer and Evan Buxner of Gori Julian & Associates PC in Edwardsville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-130

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