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Trucking company sues Amtrak, Union Pacific over fatal June 24 crash

Published: August 1, 2011
RENO, Nev. — The company that employed a truck driver who drove into the side of an Amtrak train June 24, killing himself and five passengers, is suing Amtrak and track owner Union Pacific, the Reno Gazette-Journal has reported.

John Davis Trucking says the two railroads breached their duties “by allowing trains to accelerate in the approach to the grade crossing and in failing to install, program, and maintain the grade crossing predictor, associated circuitry, and warning device mechanisms so as to provide adequate warning to travelers on Highway 95 of the approach of trains at the crossing.”

John Davis employed Lawrence Valli, a truck driver with a history of traffic violations while driving commercial vehicles. Valli drove his truck into the side of the Emeryville, Calif.-bound California Zephyr as it traversed Union Pacific’s tracks near Ocala, Nev. The wreck occurred in broad daylight with excellent visibility, and the gates were down and activated at the time of the crash. The trucking company faces five lawsuits stemming from the wreck.

“Our position is that John Davis Trucking has acted properly and has done everything right,” said Steve Jaffee, the company’s attorney. “The evidence will demonstrate that this was an issue involving Amtrak and Union Pacific and failures on their part.”

Neither UP nor Amtrak commented for the story.
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This is really stupid. It was clearly the driver's fault and how can the trucking company want to blame Amtrak. It was their fault for letting a driver like this behind the wheel with all the traffic violations he had.
Soo tired of lawyers. Was this guy on the cell phone? Any one know? I saw a long haul trucker the other day crossing the BNSF transcon here in Flagstaff, one hand with the cell phone to his ear, the other shifting while on the tracks, no hands on the wheel. Just a matter of time before the next one.
I just drove over that crossing a few weeks ago. Skid marks clearly visible where brakes were applied waaaay too late. For those not familiar with the US 95 crossing, it is on wide flat dessert with absolutely no obstructions for many miles in any direction. In fact, because of a slight curve just before the crossing, a north-bound vehicle is almost looking directly at the on-coming west-bound train! They guy was asleep, distracted or otherwise not paying any attention. Absolutely no fault of Amtrak. Go to Google Maps, Fallon Nevada and follow US95 North almost to I-80 to see the place. If the picture was recent, you could see the skid marks! Click on the little man to see a 360 degree view from the middle of the road.
5 stars
As a retired hauler of hazardous materials (petro-chemicals), I find it hard to believe that any jury with common sense would rule in favor of Davis Trucking. No driver worth his salt would not yield to a train already into the crossing unless he was suicidal. Their attorney is obviously taking on this case for billable hours only. They can't be serious.
5 stars
Clearly, this is the truck driver's fault. The trucking company is merely doing all it can with a lawsuit to give itself some bargaining leverage when the inevitable lawsuits are filed against it, hoping to offset the damages somewhat. This preemptive move indicates the trucking company is going to vigorously defend itself.
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