I was contacted by Bob Pottroff and he is probably the best railroad crossing lawyer in the country and he asked me to help him with these cases.
We have a team of lawyers, investigators and expert witnesses heading to Midland now and we're going to be looking at railroad equipment and operational issues to see what helped cause this accident.
There are a lot of conflicting eyewitness reports and one thing our investigators will do is interview as many eyewitnesses as possible.
We're also going to be securing data from the locomotive, the black box, and there's also a date recorder on the light and gauge signal complex itself that will record the workings of the lights and gates and we will be looking at that information.
Our firm has covered a number of railroad crossing accidents, and I have, as lead council, two of the biggest verdicts in Texas at railroad crossing accident cases.
It's going to take a while to sort out all of the various causes. Usually there's more than on cause for a tragedy of this magnitude, but in our experience there is some responsibility on the part of the railroad in these cases. Whether it's equipment issues or whether it's operational issues.
Just take for example: We know the placement of the horn is a mid-mount horn which makes it difficult to hear from either end of the locomotive. The way they're mounted sometimes they are more audible on one side or the other as they approach the crossing.
Another issue is that we know the railroad did not use an emergency horn sequence, a series of long and short horn blasts that are designed to alert people of the approaching train The UP (Union Pacific) railroad has actually deleted that provision from their training manual and no longer uses the emergency horn sequencing. That's a problem in a case like this when one extra second of warning would have affected the folks that have been impacted by this accident.
We are talking to some of the other families. Of course they are all in shock right now. Our goal is to preserve the evidence and the witnesses memories as best we can immediately and move forward. If other folks want to work with us we're happy to do so. We think having a strong team together will help make the case stronger and will help share the expense of the expert witnesses we're employing in the case.