Railroad crossing death suit slated for early March trial

David Yates Feb. 28, 2012, 4:12am

Litigation brought by Willie Rance, the mother of a man killed by a train allegedly because there were inadequate warnings at a hazardous crossing, has been set for a March 5 trial.

As previously reported, Rance filed her suit on Feb. 19, 2009, against Exxon Mobil, Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and engineer Louis E. Welch on behalf of her son Calvin Burnett.

A court official told the Southeast Texas Record the parties are currently attempting to mediate the matter and will go to trial March 5 if a settlement is not reached.

Court records show that sometime in February 2008 Burnett was entering the Exxon Mobil facility on U.S. 90 in Beaumont to report for work. As Burnett crossed the tracks owned by Union Pacific, a BNSF train driven by Welch struck him.

Burnett was killed in the collision.

"(Defendants) were negligent in failing to install flashing light signals with gates at this crossing, even though they knew that their duty to do so was not federally pre-empted; they knew it was an extra-hazardous crossing; they knew it had been approved for signals by the state; they knew that there had been a prior accident there; and they knew the visibility was limited," the complaint alleges.

The plaintiff is seeking punitive damages and also wants the companies to lose their Texas business licenses if they fail to promptly comply with terms of any judgment resulting from her lawsuit.

Beaumont attorney Jason Cansler represents the plaintiff.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, is presiding over the litigation.

Case No. B183-319

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