Safety & Compliance

Legal Claims, Counterclaims Continue from 2011 Amtrak-Truck Crash

August 20, 2012

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The trucking company involved in a June 2011 crash of an Amtrak train east of Reno, Nev., filed new court documents taking issue with a Union Pacific Railroad video of the rail crossing gates, according to the Reno Gazette Journal.


Truck driver Lawrence Valli was driving north on U.S. 95 on June 24, 2011, when he hit the westbound California Zephyr carrying 218 people. The crash and following fire killed Valli and five train passengers. Dozens were injured.

"Despite the massive forces released in the collision, nothing is seen or heard of this violent event in the video Amtrak and Union Pacific have offered up to the NTSB as being from this accident," Steve Jaffe, lawyer for John Davis Trucking, said in a motion to dismiss two federal lawsuits by the two railroads.

The video from the leading and trailing locomotives includes only normal train sounds, with no sound of the impact or the following explosion, the motion said.

Jaffe also contends that "if the gate had been down, as shown in the video, it would have been destroyed or broken."

The rail companies sued the trucking company, claiming it was negligent and its driver responsible for the crash on June 24, 2011. John Davis Trucking countersued and filed motions to dismiss.

To date, 15 lawsuits are pending, including three in U.S. District Court in Reno between the rail companies and John Davis Trucking. Union Pacific and Amtrak have said the crossing gates and flashing lights were working and that the driver ignored them. The trucking company has witnesses who said the gates were not working properly.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash and is expected to release its report in the next few months.

Related Stories:

6/27/2011 Truck Crashes into Amtrak Train, Killing at Least Six, Injuring Dozens

11/3/2011 NTSB Conducting Tests at Site of June 2011 Amtrak Train Crash

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