District Court

The Union Pacific Railroad admitted that one or more of its employees failed to comply with a railroad crossing order and that “UPRR is vicariously liable for such negligence” in a railroad crossing crash in May 2019 when a Solomon woman was injured. However, the railroad denied that the plaintiff was entitled to recover damages in this action.

The crossing order requires a train to stop short of a crossing, have a crew member get out on the ground at the crossing and flag/protect the crossing before the train can proceed through it.

Union Pacific Railroad and Derrick Brown amended their responses suit seeking an amount in excess of $1 million  by Windy Ewing of Solomon in Dickinson County District Court last week. 

Documents presented last week said the railroad admitted that Derek Brown was the engineer operating the train at the time of the collision. 

The railroad admitted that the engineer Brown was negligent and his negligence was a cause of the accident, but did not admit or deny that his negligence was the only cause of Wendy’s damages.

“Defendant admits that it deactivated the Poplar Street crossing signal system so that Eagle Communications could repair its property,” according to documents. Correct.

According to the attorney for Ewing, Union Pacific disabled the crossing on May 27. Eagle communications made repairs on May 27-28. Union Pacific never turned on the signal system prior to the May 29 collision.

According to court documents, the railroad said the alleged injuries and damages, if any, “were not caused by an alleged act or omission of defendant, its agents, or its employees. Plaintiff’s negligence was equal to or greater than the alleged negligence or fault of defendant, if any, which defendant expressly denies, and therefore the recovery sought by Plaintiff must be eliminated or proportionately reduced on a comparative basis. 

“To the extent that a response is required, defendant denies any and all allegations contained therein. Defendant denies that it was negligent, other than in the manner specifically admitted herein, violated any state or federal statute, or was otherwise at fault in any way. Defendant denies that plaintiff is entitled to recover damages in this action. 

According to the petition filed on her behalf in district court, at 6:17 p.m. on May 29, 2019, Ewing was driving her 2011 Honda Accord southbound on Poplar Street in the city of Solomon.

As Ewing’s vehicle was traveling southbound, it approached a railroad-highway crossing which was equipped with railroad crossing lights, cantilever lights and automatic gates.

The suit alleges Union Pacific had turned off the Poplar Street Crossing signal system. Union Pacific did not notify any local, state or federal authorities that it turned off the signal system nor did it slow trains or provide alternative protection for motoring Kansans.

Consequently, unknown to Ewing, due to the failure of the Poplar Street Crossing signal system, at about the same time a Union Pacific freight train was traveling in a generally eastbound direction at approximately 40 miles per hour.

“The Union Pacific train maintained a constant speed as it approached the inactivated crossing and train violently struck the Ewing vehicle on the passenger side and threw it almost 100 feet northeast of the crossing,” according to court documents.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.