Man blames railroad when truck gets stuck on tracks

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Oct. 8, 2009, 5:14am

MARSHALL – Driving his 18-wheel motor carrier through Marshall, Juan Hosea Gates was attempting to cross railroad tracks when his truck became stuck and was struck by a Union Pacific train.

Gates claims Union Pacific failed to maintain the tracks and the adjacent road bed in violation of federal regulations.

Gates filed a personal property damage lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad Company on May 5 in the 71st Judicial District of Harrison County, Texas. Union Pacific removed the case to the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas on Sept. 30.

The plaintiff states that on May 11, 2007, he was "operating his vehicle in a careful and cautious manner when he crossed tracks owned, operated and maintained by the Defendant."

Gates states he became stuck on the tracks because "the Defendants negligently constructed the road bed and the grade leading to the crossing in violation of their own rules."

The plaintiff is seeking more than $27,000 in property damage and damages for lost wages and loss of the use of the vehicle.

Union Pacific denies the plaintiff's allegations. The defendant believes Gates failed to keep a proper lookout, violated regulations by stopping on the railroad tracks, failed to head warning signs or listen for a train and failed to inspect the crossing's geometry before attempting to cross.

Further, Union Pacific states that that Gates failed to provide notice to the railroad prior to moving across a track with a low-clearance vehicle and failing to promptly stop when his landing gear began to engage.

Marshall attorney Brad Morin of the law firm Curry and Morin LLP is representing the plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge T. John Ward will preside over the litigation and has referred the case to Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham for pretrial proceedings.

Case No 2:09cv00296

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