A Really Wierd and Tragic Lawsuit

01/06/2012

This might just be one of the strangest lawsuits I ever read about.  An Illinois woman is suing the estate of a man killed by a train.  The reason for the lawsuit - she claims after the train crashed into the man his flying body parts hit her and caused injuries.

The case stems from a horrific accident when a train traveling more than 70 mph struck and killed an 18-year-old man who was running across the tracks.  The impact flung the man's body about 100 feet, and flying body parts knocked down a 58 year old woman.  She hurt her shoulder and broke her leg and wrist.

The woman sued the estate of the deceased victim for her injuries.  The woman's legal theory was negligence.  Or stated in a different way, if you do something as stupid as this guy did (running across the tracks as a high speed train approaches), you should be responsible for what comes from it (flying body parts hurting others).

But the issue in negligence cases is foreseeability.  In other words, was it reasonably foreseeable that a woman could get hurt by the actions of a man running across train tracks.  

Initially, a lower court dismissed the suit, finding that the man who was hit by the train could not have anticipated the woman's injuries (and therefore, was not negligent as a matter of law).  But an Illinois appeals court disagreed, and said it was reasonably foreseeable" that a train accident could send the man's flying body parts into other people around the tracks.  Therefore, the case was allowed to move forward.

The legal lesson:  Before you run across train tracks you need to not only be on the look out for trains, but also other people nearby.