Judge: Railroad engaged in 'staggering' pattern of misconduct

Star Tribune, by Paul LevyOctober 15, 2009

Star Tribune, by Paul Levy

William Bongard represented the family of one of the four teens killed in a train crossing accident in 2003.

When the families and their attorneys took the case to trial, a jury awarded them $21.6 million in damages. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation appealed that decision and refused to pay.

Then the attorneys for the families filed sanctions against the railroad, to punish them for their attempts to cover up their responsibility for the accident; because the crossing gate wasn't working properly and because they destroyed evidence, fabricated evidence, interfered with the investigation and lied.

A Washington County judge fined the railroad an additional $4.4 million for their misconduct; compensation to the families for delaying the case and for the costs of their legal expenses to fight the railroad. The families will always morn the loss of their teenagers but hope that this sanction will put an end to the gross miscarriage of justice played by the railroad.

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