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May 1, 7:54 PM EDT

Amtrak, CSX sue trucking company involved in NC derailment



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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A lawsuit filed Friday by Amtrak and CSX alleges that a trucking company caused a March train derailment that injured 55 people by failing to take safety precautions or warn that the track was blocked.

The lawsuit in a Raleigh federal court blames Guy M. Turner Inc. of Greensboro for the March 9 crash in which an Amtrak passenger train collided with an oversized tractor-trailer.

The lawsuit says the driver blocked the crossing in disregard of safety signs and failed to notify CSX, which owns the track, or Amtrak that the railway was blocked. It also says that the trucking company's Turner Transfer division failed to take reasonable safety precautions.

"Turner Transfer knew or should have known that its activities were inherently dangerous, but nevertheless failed to take reasonable precautions to avoid injury or ensure that such precautions were taken," the lawsuit says.

The oversized truck carrying electrical equipment was attempting to make a left turn when it got stuck at the railway crossing in Halifax, North Carolina. The shipment was bound from North Carolina to New Jersey.

Witnesses have said that the driver of the truck spent between 15 and 20 minutes fussing over the load and then moving back and forth in the crossing before the railroad warning arms came down. He jumped out just before impact.

The lawsuit doesn't specify an amount of damages being sought but says it would be more than $75,000 for each company.

CSX and Amtrak also expect to face personal injury claims from people in the crash, but the trucking company should bear financial responsibility for those claims because it caused the crash, according to the lawsuit.

Spokeswomen for CSX and Amtrak said the companies couldn't comment on pending litigation, and a spokeswoman for the trucking company didn't immediately return a message left late Friday.

The lawsuit says the trucking company is responsible for the actions of the truck driver and two civilian escort drivers. It also says the company was negligent for employing a driver with a history of safety violations.

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