Recently, CSX Transportation asked for a case involving a dead teenager to be removed from Putnam County Circuit Court to federal court. The 16-year-old boy had died in January 2012 after being struck by a CSX train near Hurricane High School. The boy’s father, Richard Dwayne Ball, later filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Putnam County Circuit Court against CSX, the City of Hurricane, and the Board of Education for Putnam County.
CSX later filed a motion, claiming that the case should be moved to federal court in Huntington because the amount in question exceeded $75,000 and the parties came from different states. The City of Hurricane, for its part, had already filed an answer claiming that it was in no way responsible for the teenager’s death.
The teenage boy was allegedly struck by a CSX train while walking on or near the railroad tracks. He never heard the train coming because he was listening to music through headphones. The boy’s father claimed that there should have been adequate warning signs or barriers to prevent students from walking along the railroad tracks. Ball described the area as “abnormally and unusually dangerous” due to the high number of students that passed through, the fast-moving train, and the limited sight distances. Ball further claimed that CSX’s failure to provide warning signs constituted a breach of ordinary care, and that the City of Hurricane and the Board of Education for Putnam County likewise owed a duty of care to students, to provide them with safe travel through the area.
Ball seeks compensation for sorrow, mental anguish, loss of companionship, loss of society, loss of comfort, and loss of guidance and advice from his son. He also seeks damages for his son’s medical expenses and projected loss of income. It remains to be seen whether CSX’s motion will be granted and the case will be moved to federal court.
Some reasons a party in a lawsuit might wish to remove a case from state to federal court include convenience and belief that the applicable rules or law would be more favorable to their side than the state laws. If the person killed or injured was well known in a small county, any juror or judge could potentially be biased toward the person. In cases where the defendants do not come from different states, a defendant might try a change of venue, where the case is moved from one court within a state to another.
If West Virginia law still applies, then both parties will be dealing with a system of modified comparative negligence. If the injured or deceased party is found to be at least 50% at fault, the injured party or his estate cannot collect an award from the other party, even if the other party does bear part of the blame for the accident.
The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney, contact us today.