A federal jury in Nevada has awarded Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad $4.7 million in a negligence lawsuit brought against a trucking company, which the railroad claims is responsible for a fatal 2011 train crash that resulted in the deaths of six people.
The verdict came from a federal jury in Reno, Nevada, last month. However, last week U.S. District U.S. District Judge Howard McKibben said he is still considering whether the defendant in the case,John Davis Trucking Co., should also pay another $1 million in attorney fees and court costs, which may push the final judgment to $5.7 million. That decision is expected next week.
The Amtrak accident occurred on June 24, 2011, when a truck driver attempted to cross the tracks and caused his tractor-trailer to collide with Amtrak’s California Zephyr railcar. The driver, Larry Valli, was killed, as was the train’s conductor and four passengers on the Amtrak train.
According to a negligence lawsuit filed against the trucking company, Valli had a history of speeding tickets and was driving a truck with bad brakes. In addition, attorneys for the rail companies showed camera footage that they claimed showed Valli ignoring flashing lights, a gate and numerous warning whistles from the train.
The defendants had claimed that the gates and lights were malfunctioning and that the rail road companies had destroyed evidence.
By the time he ran the warning lights two engines and the baggage car had already cleared the crossing, His truck hit the fourth car of the train.
Amtrak and Union Pacific sought $11 million. The jury awarded Amtrak $4.5 million to Amtrak and $210,777 to Union Pacific for damages and medical costs for employees, as well as interest accrued regarding those amounts since the accident occurred.
Relatives of those killed in the crash have also filed separate wrongful death lawsuits against Valli’s estate and the trucking company.