Recently, our Anaheim personal injury law firm wrote a blog post about a Los Angeles wrongful death trial underway between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the mother of a blind man who was run over by a Metro Blue Line train at the Del Amo station in 2009. Now, the jury has awarded Mary Cuthbertson $17 million.
Cameron Cuthbertson, who is blind, mistakenly walked in between two rail cars thinking that the gap was an open train door. The three-car train departed as he was trying to climb back onto the train platform. The 48-year-old Compton man sustained fatal crush injuries.
In her Los Angeles County wrongful death case, Mary Cuthbertson's lawyers accused Metro of failing to put up protective barriers between cars even though they knew that not doing so placed blind people at risk of falling between the train cars--especially because a lot of them depend on trains to get around. It wasn't until after Cameron's death that the barriers were put up. Mary's Los Angeles personal injury lawyers also accuse Rosie Haynes, the train's operator, of stopping the train over two feet away from where she should have stopped, which is why Cameron tried to enter the train where he did. They contend that she had the train leave earlier than she should have and that if she'd waited Cameron may have been able to get back on the platform.
Meantime, Metro's legal team argued that their client had immunity from such lawsuits because California had approved the train's design when the line was constructed in 1990. In a statement issued after the jury's verdict, Metro said that it wasn't negligent in or responsible for Cameron's death and it may appeal.
The Blue Line was made prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which does not allow governments, private employers, labor unions, and employment agencies to discriminate against persons with disabilities. The ADA requires that intercity rail transport be made accessible, useful, and safe for individuals with disabilities. If the train line was set up after the ADA went into effect, the station would have had to have fencing, chains, or some other obstacle between the cars so that blind people wouldn't make the mistake that Cameron did.
That said, it is still the responsibility of property owners to make sure there are no safety hazards on a premise that could place patrons, visitors, customers, guests, or others at risk of serious Los Angeles personal injury or wrongful death. Failure to do so can be grounds for a California premises liability case.
There doesn't have to be a federal act in place for premise owners to be obligated to remedy dangerous situations and prevent accidents from happening or to be held negligent for not doing so. In situations where public transportation is involved, its owners and operators must make sure to eliminate safety risks on the vehicle and at departure and exit locations so as to minimize the chance of injury.
While the $17 million Los Angeles train accident verdict won't make up for Cameron's death, it does at least hold the MTA accountable financially. It also makes a statement so that hopefully this type of avoidable, tragic accident doesn't happen to someone else.
Compton Woman Gets $17M Judgment Against MTA For Wrongful Death Of Blind Son, CBS Los Angeles, July 29, 2011
Blind man's death on Blue Line train brings $17-million verdict, Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2011
Related Web Resources:
METRO STATEMENT RE: JURY VERDICT Mary Cuthbertson, et al. v. LACMTA, Metro
Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
More Blog Posts:
Los Angeles Wrongful Death Trial Underway in Case of Blind Man Who Fell Between Two Metro Blue Line Cars and Was Run Over by Train, California Injury Lawyers, June 27, 2011
2008 Chatsworth Train Accident: Judge Divvies Up $200M to the 98 Metro Survivors and the Families of the 24 Passengers Who Die, California Injury Lawyers, July 14, 2011
Amtrak Train Wreck: First Personal Injury Lawsuit Filed Against Big Rig Truck Driver, California Injury Lawyers, June 28, 2011