Family of Bridge Collapse Victims Suing Union Pacific

Union Pacific officials say they were doing safety checks in Northbrook twice a day leading up to the train derailment.

Clean-up crews and freight service have been ordered to halt for 36 hours as experts hired by the Lindner family's attorneys investigate the site of Wednesday's bridge collapse. 

"Union Pacific has already created a makeshift bridge and already has trains going over the spot which shows they are more interested in having their business carry on the day after this tragedy than they are allowing a real thorough investigation to determine why these two amazing lives were taken away from us," said attorney Michael LaMonica. 

Erron Fisher and Michael LaMonica of Fisher & LaMonica, P.C. in Chicago appeared on behalf of the families of , whose bodies were found in the wreckage Thursday.

"We’re here to get some answers as to why something this tragic happened," LaMonica said. "We refuse to accept the fact that it was hot outside so a train can come flying off the tracks and kill somebody because that’s unacceptable."

Tom Lang, a spokesman for Union Pacific said the company was doing everything by the book. 

“I want to express to the family and friends of the accident victims our deepest sympathies," Lang said. "We follow all the federal guidelines relative to safety. It’s in our best interest and our employees’ interest to run a safe operation. We don’t take risks.”

According to Lang, Union Pacific crews were inspecting the rails twice a day, every day during the heat wave. He could not say when the last inspection was done prior to the derailment. He confirmed that Union Pacific was still investigating the cause of the accident. 

“It’s a lot investigation to still go on, so there’s not a definitive answer yet," Lang said. "We have what we think is the cause but it’s months out before we have a final evaluation of the cause.”

Fisher and LaMonica filed a court order this morning to stop clean up and freight service until their 36 hour investigation is complete. They have also filed a wrongful death suit against Union Pacific.

"So far it’s been Union Pacific that’s been doing the investigating," LaMonica said. "If we couldn’t trust them to keep their trains on the track, I’m not sure we should sit back and trust them to lead the investigation."

"The scene is totally destroyed, their trains are up and running, the very tracks that we wanted to have people look at are gone," Fisher added.

But Lang says Union Pacifc took "all the appropriate steps to preserve evidence related to the incident.”

Union Pacific plans to resume freight and clean up operations once the stop order is lifted at 11:00 p.m. Saturday. 

“As soon as we believe it’s safe to run, and our experts have deemed it safe to run and the order is lifted we intend to run the freight," Lang said.

According to a , a representative from the Federal Railroad Administration determined Friday afternoon that Union Pacific's temporary bridge is structurally sound. 

To stay up to date as this story unfolds, "like" Northbrook Patch or Glenview Patch on Facebook.

Mosaic53 July 09, 2012 at 03:04 PM
The EVIDENCE was in the process of being removed & THAT'S why they had to act so quickly! They had to bring in their own people to investigate. The victim was HIMSELF a Personal Injury Attorney & his family undoubtably knew he would've done the same for his own clients. We do not live in a proactive society. We wait until something bad happens to take corrective measures. We don't fix something before it breaks or even when we know it "might" happen again. We wait. we wait for people to die at dangerous intersections before lights or stop signs are installed. We see it on the news all the time.
Mosaic53 July 09, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Per Science Guy's previous cogent comments, would one consider this a "Perfect Storm" of unfortunate variables? And if so, should cargo such as this NOT be transported on a bridge in an urban area where there are a lot of drivers? Is that even a practical alternative when transported across the country? Not an expert of any kind, but what would be a solution to not occurring again? You seem to have made the most sense of any Comnents I've read.
Madison Paterson July 09, 2012 at 03:28 PM
In that case prehaps it should be LOCAL government authorities doing a DEATH investigation and not a PRIVATE company doing a CYA investigation.
Madison Paterson July 09, 2012 at 08:44 PM
A lot of your questions were raised when they increased the freight traffic around the suburbs. The federal government allowed the increase despite the objections of the local communities. A lot of the objections were of the NIMBY varity- however a lot of valid questions concerning safety were raised. The railroads and the federal government made assurances that all would be fine nothing to worry about. Well there have been derailments, collisions etc. that have called into question the safety of the equipment, the tracks and bridges etc. Hopefully this will all be looked into. Also all local taxpayers should ask- who pays for the emerency responders- the full cost not just a token fee- and for the road crews to evaluate the NON-RAILROAD property that was damaged? It better be Union Pacific.
Rudolph S Caparros Jr December 13, 2012 at 12:12 AM
HazMat Experts and Firefighters petition Dow Chemical and Union Pacific for safe rail tank cars transporting gas chlorine. Secondary containment is a necessary improvement that must be implemented. See--PETITION C KIT for First Responders Comments.


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