AP

BNSF: Rail accident victims should have to use arbitration

Sep 22, 2022, 12:40 AM | Updated: 1:06 pm

FILE - A law enforcement officer inspects the scene of an Amtrak train that derailed after striking...

FILE - A law enforcement officer inspects the scene of an Amtrak train that derailed after striking a dump truck near Mendon, Mo., on June 27, 2022. BNSF Railway Co. has asked a federal court to require victims of the deadly Amtrak crash in Missouri to pursue settlements through arbitration, rather than lawsuits. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

BNSF Railway Co. has asked a federal court to require victims of a deadly Amtrak crash in Missouri to pursue settlements through arbitration, rather than lawsuits.

BNSF owns the railroad tracks used by Amtrak when a Southwest Chief train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago collided with a pickup truck that was blocking an intersection near Mendon, Missouri. Three train passengers and the truck driver died and dozens more were injured in the June 27 collision.

Multiple lawsuits have been filed since the collision against both railway companies. Missouri transportation officials, Chariton County leaders and areas residents had been pushing for safety upgrades at the crossing, which is steep and had no lights or other signals to warn about an approaching train.

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, BNSF asked for a preliminary injunction to require the victims to use arbitration rather than proceed with their lawsuits in court. The company also asked the judge to halt action on lawsuits pending in Missouri courts until the arbitration question is settled.

BNSF, based in Fort Worth, Texas, argues that when passengers bought tickets from Amtrak, they checked a box agreeing to terms and conditions, which includes binding arbitration agreements. BNSF argues the terms apply to the company because it is the host railroad for Amtrak.

Grant Davis, who was appointed as a lead attorney for a plaintiff’s committee working to consolidate pre-trial matters in the numerous lawsuits, said BNSF is trying to take away his clients’ constitutional right to a jury trial.

“We believe they are wrong factually and legally on this issue,” Davis said. “The fact that BNSF was not a party to (Amtrak’s) poor attempt at an arbitration agreement is fatal to this effort. It’s adding insult to injury for BNSF to file a case against the very people it injured.”

Among the defendants named in the lawsuit are relatives of the three passengers who died: Rochelle Cook, 58, and Kim Holsapple, 56, both of De Soto, Kansas; and Binh Pham, 82, of Kansas City, Missouri.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

8 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

8 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

9 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

9 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

9 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

12 days ago

BNSF: Rail accident victims should have to use arbitration