There’s nothing new about the impulse to call in the cops against wolves, mashers, and fresh guys on street corners and public conveyances [Alexis Coe, The Atlantic]:
As early as 1897, Missouri representative Prichard B. Hoot introduced a bill that sought to regulate flirting on trains, but the endeavor ultimately proved unsuccessful. That same year, Senator James G. McCune recommended Virginia make flirting a misdemeanor; like his earlier proposal to outlaw football, this bill did not come to fruition.
A New York appeals court has tossed a jury’s $2.3 million award to a man who fell onto the Union Square subway tracks and lost his leg. The court focused on the jury’s acceptance of what it said was speculative testimony from experts arguing that the train’s motorman should have stopped faster. The victim “said he was too drunk to remember how he ended up on the tracks or anything about the accident.” [AP/WINS, New York Post, Dibble v. NYCTA, earlier, and compare $6 million track totterer award last year] More: John Hochfelder.
Yes, the online ads are already up. Washington’s City Paper tracks down one California-based law firm marketer: “This is the only marketing I do — it’s the highest cost per click online. What else can you do, a young guy like me? I don’t want to do porn [sites].” According to one report via Twitter, “the Google ads are running on the WMATA Web site.” More: Maryland Daily Record (first suit filed); Eric Turkewitz. And Ron Miller, on the dilemma of the young man quoted above: “Dare I suggest this is a false choice? There has to be a third option after porn and train wreck chasing, right?”
Also: Overlawyered favorite Willie Gary is in the case.
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.
Dustin Dibble, 25, of Brooklyn “got so drunk that he fell into the path of a subway train – costing him his right leg – but a Manhattan jury still awarded him $2.3 million after finding that NYC Transit was to blame.” [New York Post ("Drunk Rides Gravy Train") and more (Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls award "incomprehensible"), N.Y. Daily News] John Hochfelder has more on the tendency of the New York subway system to be sued by tipsy totterers, and see also this City Journal compilation of mine from back in 1993.
Aggressive solicitation by lawyers has been raising hackles in Los Angeles since the commuter train crash. (Carol J. Williams, “Lawyers swoop in after the Metrolink crash, looking for clients”, L.A. Times, Oct. 5)(earlier)(via Stier, Mass Tort Prof).
Brian Hopkins, 25, of Astoria, Queens, New York City, “who survived an electric shock and fire two years ago when he climbed atop an empty, stopped Amtrak train after a night of bar hopping in Boston is suing the railroad – because Amtrak didn’t do enough to protect trespassers like him.” (Kathianne Boniello, New York Post, Aug. 31).
A U.S. District Court judge threw out the lawsuit of an Amtrak railroad passenger who claimed he injured himself when he jumped from a train that he had boarded in error. If you guessed that alcohol would somehow be involved, you are correct. You can download the whole decision here.
The facts are even more interesting with confusion from the plaintiff as to who sold him his ticket and how he boarded the wrong train, proving once again that you can’t make this stuff up. The Court’s decision has the details:
On the evening of May 19, 2005, the plaintiff consumed approximately five large tequila-based margarita cocktails [note to court: don't all margaritas have tequilla?] at a New Haven restaurant before walking to the New Haven Railroad Station. …
The plaintiff testified that the ticket agent told him that the train was on track number eight, that it was already there, and that it was the last train so he “better hurry.” Without looking at the announcement board in the train station, the plaintiff walked to platform eight and boarded out-of-service Metro-North train number 1570. The train’s doors then closed and the train traveled for between seven and fifteen minutes before stopping at the New Haven Train Yard.
When the train doors opened, the plaintiff noticed that the train was not stopped at a platform, and he walked throughout the train and yelled for assistance but was unable to find anyone. Unable to see the ground below the train, the plaintiff jumped from the train car and injured his ankle. He then called 911 with his cell phone. Metro-North police responded, and the plaintiff was transported to Yale New Haven Hospital.
And then, of course, he sued….