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Amtrak Derailment Philadelphia (5/12/2015)

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Karl1459

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Actually, in the case of an automobile, someone throwing rocks is entirely different, both legally and conceptually.

Negligence is failing to operate with the fully expected due amount of care. Failing to do so makes you civily liable for your actions. The rocks presented no material danger to anybody- kids lobbing rocks at lexan are basically pissing in the wind. People throw rocks at trains- this has been going on forever. Engineers are expected to be able to handle a train that is having rocks thrown at it, or ignore reports of same over the radio. Failing to operate the train in this circumstance, ipso facto, is negligent.

The kids are guilty of a variety of offenses, but are not responsible for the fact that Bostian was negligent in performing as a reasonable train operating expert should in the event that somebody throws rocks at another train.

Gross Negligence is acting in a manner that the reasonable person can expect would lead to a problem. Bostian was distracted by a distracted event in the moment; this is negligent, but an honest era that could happen to any reasonably conscientious person. So he was not grossly negligent, and is therefore not criminally liable.

Willfulness is acting in a manner intended to cause problems. I'd Bostian were to, say, decide that instead of driving the train, he would lean back, look at the ceiling, and whack the alerter with his foot whenever it went off, that would be an example of willful negligence. Were he to do something on that order of magnitude, he'd be guilty of murder. But he sure as hell wasnt there.
I have to disagree with the nuances of a response to being "rocked". In Oregon we have had at least on incident where a person was killed directly by a rock thrown from an overpass penetrated a cars windshield and directly killed a person. That sets up a situation where a thrown object becomes a potentially lethal situation that a reasonable person would attempt to avoid. If the "rocking" incidents in PA are typically 4 oz pebbles then it could be considered just a nuisance, a 4 pound stone thrown into a 100mph train windshield could likely be quite another issue.

The issue of responsibility may not even rise to negligence if the loss of situational awareness was a reasonable consequence of the information overload from the "rocking", just as a driver loosing control after swerving to avoid a child suddenly running into the roadway.

That does not relieve Amtrak of its contractual liability from failing to safely transport its passengers.
 

Acela150

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I'd have to disagree that the kids aren't responsible. The reason that the engineer was distracted was radio traffic as a Septa train got rocked. Those rocks didn't just fly on their own. Someone threw them. Which is reckless endangerment. This happens everyday on the NEC and only once has it lead to a derailment of this magnitude and it's the derailment in question. If these kids weren't out there throwing rocks, I'd venture to say the derailment would have never happened.

If Tom Kline wants to hold someone responsible hold these kids responsible not the engineer. But Tom Kline doesn't get that. Cause he doesn't know a darn thing about the everyday things like this on the NEC. Ever since 188 I have a major hate for him. He's out for blood in this case. He needs to get over it. He's not a criminal attorney, he's a personal injury attorney.
That is a different case. To initiate that one has to first find the kids. In any case that does not absolve the Engineer of all his responsibilities. So I guess we will never agree on the point you are trying to make. So I guess we can save many electron flows by calling it quits. [emoji57]

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I can say that yes finding the kids would be extremely hard. But this is one reason I respect you so much Jis, you don't want to drag things out. I can easily agree that we disagree on this. ;)

Actually, in the case of an automobile, someone throwing rocks is entirely different, both legally and conceptually.

Negligence is failing to operate with the fully expected due amount of care. Failing to do so makes you civily liable for your actions. The rocks presented no material danger to anybody- kids lobbing rocks at lexan are basically pissing in the wind. People throw rocks at trains- this has been going on forever. Engineers are expected to be able to handle a train that is having rocks thrown at it, or ignore reports of same over the radio. Failing to operate the train in this circumstance, ipso facto, is negligent.

The kids are guilty of a variety of offenses, but are not responsible for the fact that Bostian was negligent in performing as a reasonable train operating expert should in the event that somebody throws rocks at another train.

Gross Negligence is acting in a manner that the reasonable person can expect would lead to a problem. Bostian was distracted by a distracted event in the moment; this is negligent, but an honest era that could happen to any reasonably conscientious person. So he was not grossly negligent, and is therefore not criminally liable.

Willfulness is acting in a manner intended to cause problems. I'd Bostian were to, say, decide that instead of driving the train, he would lean back, look at the ceiling, and whack the alerter with his foot whenever it went off, that would be an example of willful negligence. Were he to do something on that order of magnitude, he'd be guilty of murder. But he sure as hell wasnt there.
I have to disagree with the nuances of a response to being "rocked". In Oregon we have had at least on incident where a person was killed directly by a rock thrown from an overpass penetrated a cars windshield and directly killed a person. That sets up a situation where a thrown object becomes a potentially lethal situation that a reasonable person would attempt to avoid. If the "rocking" incidents in PA are typically 4 oz pebbles then it could be considered just a nuisance, a 4 pound stone thrown into a 100mph train windshield could likely be quite another issue.

The issue of responsibility may not even rise to negligence if the loss of situational awareness was a reasonable consequence of the information overload from the "rocking", just as a driver loosing control after swerving to avoid a child suddenly running into the roadway.

That does not relieve Amtrak of its contractual liability from failing to safely transport its passengers.
The "rocks" are always pieces of ballast. So imagine a piece of ballast going through your windshield at 100 MPH. The only place you see smaller ballast is in some yards known as "walking ballast". I used to work in a yard that had a small section of walking ballast. Think of walking ballast as tiny pebbles that's easy to walk on. I actually prefer regular ballast over the stuff that was in Morrisville. Cause at least in yards the ballast is packed down as it's walked on constantly.
 

PVD

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The State AG has indicated they will appeal. This is reaching the level of idiocy. Does anyone think a jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt when the Phila. DA and 2 judges have said it is unlikely that a crime was committed or could be proven. I don't know PA law, but in NY even if this somehow got to trial I could see a trial order of dismissal as a real possibility.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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Does anyone think a jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt when the Phila. DA and 2 judges have said it is unlikely that a crime was committed or could be proven.
Was this the same engineer who immediately declined to be questioned about the the crash until days later after choosing to meet with lawyers and advocates first? Something about that sequence of events rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, it's within your rights to protect yourself first and foremost, but in the case of innocent deaths my sympathy primarily lies with those who were injured and killed.
 
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flitcraft

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Personally, I think it is entirely appropriate to wait to make a statement until the shock of the events has worn off. Nothing that the engineer could have said would have changed the deaths of the innocents in this case, but words said can be twisted and interpreted to create liability where none actually existed. Years ago, we had a case in my office where a father was questioned by the police hours after escaping from a fire in which his adult disabled daughter died. Obviously he felt horrible and blamed himself for the situation, and things that he said to that effect were used to prosecute him. Sixteen years later, new evidence showed that he was completely innocent. No one can give him back the years he spent imprisoned for something that was not a crime at all, just a tragic accident.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I don't disagree that there is a reason and benefit for keeping your mouth shut until you've had time to digest everything and to be very careful with what you say afterward. But does it really benefit society as a whole to place the operators and safety investigators at odds with one another? Perhaps whatever is said to the NTSB in the first few hours should be given some sort of limited immunity so long as it is given transparently and truthfully.
 

PVD

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We live in a country where too many people think that any untoward incident needs to be punished as a criminal event. Weighing benefit to society against risk to oneself, I think most people vote for themselves. The problem here wasn't the safety investigators, or even the criminal investigators, it is a group of private parties looking for a pound of flesh, and a few politicians looking for a ton of press. Something terrible happened, the civil cases are settled, this is pointless grandstanding.
 

Acela150

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Honestly, this is the sort of situation where I wish overly-aggressive prosecutors had to pay defense costs after a certain point (given the nearly-unlimited resources of the government vis-a-vis most individuals).
I follow your point. But I say give the bill to the Attorney's begging for him to be charged. Tom Kline and other. They are the ones who begged for him to be charged.

Here's my prediction. The State AG Josh Shapiro has appealed and I'm going to guess the charges will be reinstated again, causing this poor ******* more hell to go through.
 
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This is off topic, but when I was 16 I and another 16 year old ran a 6000lbs steam engine (Ottaway), and 4 passenger cars in a shopping center parking lot. IT had no, I repeat, no brakes, With excited kids 100+ running around crossing over the tracks ahead of it, I could not sleep at night always wondering what would have happened if we had hit some kid and broke his leg or killed him. But times were different in the 60's.
 
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