Railroad blames crew for train crash, sues them
By GREG KOCHER
LEXINGTON — Norfolk Southern Railway Co. filed suit against two crew members whom it says were negligent and failed to prevent a March 18 train crash and derailment in Georgetown.
The suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Lexington says locomotive engineer Kevin Tobergte of Ft. Thomas and conductor Andrew Hall of Ft. Mitchell failed to reduce the speed of the moving southbound train and prevent the collision with a stopped northbound train.
The crash destroyed two Norfolk Southern locomotives and caused the derailment of 13 rail cars.
The crash started a fire, forced a temporary evacuation and sent four people to the hospital as a precaution, according to the railway company and Georgetown police.
Robert Cetrulo, an Edgewood lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of the railway company, declined Thursday to answer questions about the suit. Tobergte and Hall could not be immediately reached for comment.
The suit says Tobergte and Hall were aboard the Norfolk Southern southbound train No. 175, and that they were responsible for its safe operation.
The suits says the two ignored a signal that required them “to be prepared to stop.” The suit says the two were negligent in failing to maintain a reasonable lookout, including a watch for wayside signals that govern the movement of the train.
The two also failed “to pay attention to their duties,” failed to properly control the movement and speed reduction, and failed to announce to a dispatcher that they had applied an emergency brake so that “other trains in the vicinity could be notified of the event.”
The suit says the two men are liable for damages to the railway’s property, including, but not limited to, damages to the locomotives, rail cars, tracks, right of way, communications and signal equipment, expenses related to getting the train and car back on the track, transporting the locomotives for repair, and damages for loss of use of the locomotives and rail cars.
There were also costs related to removing the diesel fuel that spilled onto the soil and ground water, the suit says.
The suit seeks a judgment against Tobergte and Hall in an amount sufficient to compensate the railway company. And it seeks the awarding of an indemnity as may be payable to adjacent land owners or railway customers.
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