Amtrak attendant who survived crash sues truck company

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 28, 2011 9:34 PM
Amtrak attendant who survived crash sues truck company

By Timothy Pratt

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - An attendant on the Amtrak train struck by a tractor-trailer rig in Nevada last week, in a fiery crash that killed at least six people and injured dozens more, sued the trucking company on Tuesday.

Alexandra Curtis, 38, who according to the lawsuit suffered "severe and permanent injuries" in the collision, seeks in excess of $10,000 in damages in the lawsuit, which alleges negligence on the part of John Davis Trucking Co.

Curtis charges the company, through its employee, driver Lawrence Valli, "negligently and carelessly failed to heed railroad warning signs and crashed into the westbound California Zephyr Amtrak train."

The lawsuit, the first filed in connection with the accident, also alleges the company failed to train and supervise its employees.

Representatives for the John Davis Trucking company, based in Battle Mountain, Nevada, could not immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit, filed in Washoe County District Court.

Valli was killed along with the train's conductor and at least four other people on Friday morning when the truck smashed through closed railroad arms and into the side of the California Zephyr, which had about 195 passengers and 14 crew members on board.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators and local authorities say they have not yet determined why Valli ignored or failed to see signs and flashing lights to slam into the train.

According to skid marks found at the scene, he hit the brakes on his rig, which had an estimated weight of 50,000 pounds, just 320 feet before the rail crossing.

Bill Bradley, an attorney representing Curtis, said the purpose of the lawsuit was to "make sure the rights and interests of the victims are protected the same as the rights and interests of Amtrak and the trucking company."

Asked about NTSB estimates that establishing probable cause in the fiery crash could take a year or more, Bradley said "preliminary information indicates that the truck didn't stop. This is negligence."

The suit seeks a sum to be determined in excess of $10,000 for mental and physical damages caused by the accident. The court documents do not say what injuries Curtis suffered.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)