Family Of Man Dragged To Death By Train Files Wrongful Death
The family of a man who died after being dragged by a train in Massachusetts has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the MBTA. The family blames the man’s death on carelessness and negligence. According to witness accounts, the man got his arm caught in the door of the train, which then pulled away, dragging the man to his death.
The lawsuit contends that the rail conductor was supposed to ensure that all passengers were clear of the door and the platform before pulling away. They maintain that, had the conductor did his job as instructed, the man would not have been killed.
An investigation into the incident found that the railcar door was partly responsible as it closed and locked the man into the door and he was unable to pull himself free.
Analyzing the lawsuit
The incident occurred a year ago and we are in the very early stages of litigation. As of now, the plaintiffs have alleged that the MBTA is responsible for the death as it occurred. However, a subsequent investigation also determined that the railcar door was part of the problem. If so, the plaintiffs would be able to file a lawsuit against the MTBA and potentially the manufacturer of the cars. Ultimately, the MBTA has a duty of care to ensure that the cars are safe. They also have a duty of care to ensure their train operators are following safety guidelines. Neither of those two things occurred and now it looks like they’ll be held responsible for a man’s avoidable death.
Generally speaking, lawsuits against government contractors are restricted by sovereign immunity. However, in order to invoke sovereign immunity, the defendant must be able to establish that they were fulfilling the terms of a government contract. In this situation, two safety policies were ignored resulting in a death. So, there is a chance that the plaintiffs can sue the MTBA without necessarily being restricted by sovereign immunity. They would have to argue that the MTBA did not fulfill the terms of their contract and thus, sovereign immunity does not apply.
Ultimately, jurors don’t like it when a company fails to upgrade a safety feature and someone dies as a result. Juries tend to hold companies responsible for that failure to ensure that it costs them more money than it would have to simply upgrade. Ultimately, the company decided to take that risk, not the victim, so they should pay for that.
In a case like this, the matter comes down to how much the plaintiff can receive. Often, the lawsuit will be capped by sovereign immunity since it is filed against a government contractor. But in cases where the contractor shirks responsibility, they cannot also shirk liability.
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