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ARTICLE ID 43253

$________ INCLUDING $________ PUNITIVE DAMAGES Automatic train crossing gate came down on the vehicle which subsequently was struck by moving train - The 16- year-old plaintiff suffered traumatic brain injury.

Douglas County, Colorado

The plaintiff’s vehicle, which stalled on railroad tracks, was trapped by an automatic gate that lowered onto the plaintiff’s stalled vehicle. The plaintiff’s vehicle was then struck by one of the defendant’s trains. The 16-year-old plaintiff sustained traumatic brain injury.

This negligence action arises out of a November 12, ________ 7 3 collision between a Union Pacific Railroad Company ("UP") train and a motor vehicle occupied by the 16-year-old plaintiff. The 16 year old female high school student was on her way to class at Douglas County High School. On the morning of the collision, the plaintiff was traveling eastbound on Fifth Street, as she typically did on her way to school. Fifth Street intersects with one of the defendant’s mainline railroad tracks just west of Front Street in Castle Rock, Colorado. When the plaintiff’s vehicle was at the Fifth Street crossing, it stalled on the railroad track. A train began to approach the crossing and the automatic gate came down on top of her vehicle. The plaintiff’s boyfriend who was following her to school in his pickup truck tried unsuccessfully to push her vehicle off of the tracks at the last second. The plaintiff’s vehicle was then struck by the defendant’s train operated by defendant Dolan. The train was traveling northbound on the mainline track. As the train reached the south end of Castle Rock, the defendant Dolan saw the plaintiff’s vehicle at the Fifth Street crossing. At this point, the train was still some ________ feet south of the crossing and the plaintiff maintained that the defendant Dolan still had sufficient time and distance to stop the train. The plaintiff alleged that despite the fact that the defendants had ample time to slow down or stop the train prior to hitting the plaintiff’s vehicle, it failed to do so. The plaintiff alleges that for more than ________ feet (and 20 seconds) the train crew did nothing to avoid the collision. The plaintiff alleges that it was not until the train crashed into the plaintiff’s vehicle that the engineer finally applied the emergency brake to slow the train. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s train, which was unloaded at the time of the collision, had the ability to stop at a distance less than ________ feet. The collision crushed the plaintiff’s vehicle and caused the plaintiff to sustain severe and permanent injuries.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant alleging that the defendant was negligent in its operation of the train. The defendant successfully argued that the case had to be tried under the Colorado Premises Liability Act. The defendants then argued that the plaintiff was a trespasser and that the plaintiff had to prove that the defendants’ conduct was willful and deliberate. The Court disagreed and held that the plaintiff’s status was that of an invitee and that she only had to prove that the conduct of the defendant was a failure to exercise reasonable care.

The defendant argued that the train would have missed the plaintiff’s vehicle if the plaintiff’s boyfriend had not pushed her vehicle forward in an effort to get it out of the way of the oncoming train. The defendant maintained that the engineer did not try to slow or stop the train because they observed that the train would miss the stalled vehicle.

At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant. The jury awarded damages in the amount of $________ for past medical expenses; $________ for future medical and life care expenses; $________ for future loss of earning capacity and $________ for punitive damages.

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