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The BNSF Railway Company has told a federal court that the victims of a fatal Amtrak accident in Missouri need to settle through arbitration rather than through lawsuits.

BNSF owns the railroad tracks used by Amtrak when a Southwest main train 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 were killed and dozens more were injured in the June 27 collision.

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Several lawsuits have been filed against the two railway companies since the collision. Missouri transportation officials, Chariton County leaders and area residents were pushing for safety upgrades at the crossing, which is steep and had no lights or other signs to warn of an oncoming train.

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, BNSF sought a preliminary injunction requiring victims to use arbitration instead of proceeding with their lawsuits in court. The company also asked the judge to withhold proceedings on pending lawsuits in Missouri courts until the arbitration issue is resolved.

amtrak

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

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Grant Davis, who was appointed as a lead counsel for a plaintiff’s committee working to strengthen pre-trial cases in several lawsuits, said the BNSF does not protect its clients’ constitutional right to jury trials. trying to snatch.

BNSF Freight Train

“We believe they are factually and legally incorrect on this issue,” Davis said. “The fact that BNSF was not a party to (Amtrak’s) poor effort in an arbitration agreement is fatal to this effort. It is adding insult to injury for BNSF to file cases against those injured.” could.”

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The defendants named in the trial are relatives of three passengers who died: Rochelle Cooke, 58, and Kim Holspel, 56, both of De Soto, Kansas; and Binh Pham, 82, of Kansas City, Missouri.