The husband of a woman who died in a 2008 train derailment in Illinois has settled his lawsuit against three railroad companies for $22.5 million. Jose Tellez, 40, was with his wife Zoila and their daughter on June 19, 2009 when a Canadian National Railway Company train with 114 cars, including 74 tankers filled with ethanol, derailed as it travelled from Freeport to Chicago. Zoila Tellez was killed as she ran from their car while on fire from the explosions that resulted from the derailment. Jose Tellez also was badly burned as he tried to run for safety.
The couple’s 19-year-old daughter, who was in the car at the time, settled her individual claim for injuries she sustained in the incident for $13.75 million. She was about 6 1/2 months pregnant at the time and lost the baby as a result of her injuries. Her case, which was handled by the Joseph Parente Law firm, was settled during jury deliberations.
The family was waiting for the train to pass when 18 cars containing two million gallons of ethanol derailed nearby at a washout a few yards west of the intersection. An explosion resulted with a “massive fire ball” engulfing the family’s car. In the suit, filed against the Canadian National Railway Company, the Plaintiffs alleged that the railroad was negligent in the operation, maintenance and supervision of the train. It was claimed the company was negligent in the maintenance and inspection of the railroad track. In addition to the Canadian company, its subsidiary companies, the Illinois Central Railroad Company and the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad Company, were named as Defendants.
About 20 minutes before the derailment, the Winnebago County 911 center phoned the Canadian company at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada and warned officials that a portion of the track, which turned out to be near the derailment, had been washed out. According to documents and witness testimony at trial, officials noted that the engineer of the train had noticed water conditions on the track minutes away, but instead of slowing down, the engineer actually sped the train up. Proper communication between railroads like these in the Canadian National Railway system is an absolute necessity. Railroads carrying hazardous cargo that travel through crowded residential areas such as Chicago and Rockford must be extra cautious about their cargo and any dangers in their path.
Philip Harnett Corboy Jr., who is with the Chicago firm of Corboy and Demetrio, represented Mr. Tellez. The Joseph Parente law firm represented the daughter in her claim. All of these layers did very good jobs for their clients.
Source: Chicago Tribune
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