You can hardly blame the lawyers for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority if they thought the case looked defensible. John Hochfelder:
the jury heard evidence that on December 12, 2002, James Sanders fell onto the tracks as a subway car in Brooklyn was coming into the station at about 15 mph. The jury was also apprised of the facts that Sanders had been returning from methadone treatment and had drunk pure rum before entering the station (a fact he initially denied).
Then, there were these additional facts:
- Sanders could not recall why he fell
- the motorman’s speed was no more than 15 mph
- witnesses testified that the train was no more than 20 feet away when Sanders fell onto the track
The “last clear chance” doctrine, as Hochfelder explains, provided enough of a basis for Sanders’ lawyer to persuade a jury that the subway motorman was 70 percent responsible for the accident.
More on tipsy track totterers: Feb. 19, etc.