KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Amtrak and BNSF Railway have filed suit against the company that owns the dump truck involved in Monday’s fatal collision and derailment of the Southwest Chief — and the widow of the truck driver has sued a BNSF employee and the county where the accident occurred.
KCTV reports Amtrak and BNSF have filed suit against MS Contracting in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Northern Division. Billy Barton II was driver of the truck owned by MS Contracting of Brookfield, Mo., when it was struck by the Southwest Chief at a grade crossing near Mendon, Mo., derailing the train and killing Barton and three Amtrak passengers.
The eight-page complaint filed Thursday alleges the truck failed to yield the right-of-way to the train “despite the fact it was unsafe, careless and reckless to do so because of the clearly visible approaching Amtrak Train 4,” and that the company was negligent in 20 different ways involving operation of the truck. It says Amtrak and BNSF each suffered more than $75,000 in damages. (The $75,000 figure is the threshold for the case to be in the jurisdiction of the federal court.) In Amtrak’s case, this relates to damage to equipment, labor costs, delays and disruption to service, and other losses; for BNSF, the host railroad for the Southwest Chief route, it includes labor costs, delays and disruption to service, costs of responding to the collision, and other losses. The companies request a jury trial.
Meanwhile, KSHB-TV reports Erin Barton has filed a wrongful death suit in Chariton County, Mo., Circuit Court. That suit names as defendants a BNSF roadmaster in charge of the tracks where the accident occurred, as well as Chariton County. It alleges the BNSF supervisor should have known the crossing represented “a grave danger” because of the nature of the crossing and vegetation that obstructed views around the crossing, and that the county should have known the crossing was in “dangerous condition.”
— Updated at 12:45 p.m. CDT with additional details from Amtrak and BNSF suit; updated at 9:20 p.m. to explain significance of $75,000 damage figure.