Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by byte
 
I'll say this: If anyone I know moans about Chicago's Olympic bid chances and how it's either going to cost too much to bring the Metra system up to par or we didn't get them because the system is inadequate, I'm going to remind them of a certain $35 million that got sucked away several years back. Looks like that money's currently subsidizing violin lessons rather than rolling stock.
  by 3rdrail
 
I'm not sure what your point is, Gilbert. As far as "sticking up for her", I'll be happy to. First of all, I know nothing about this case, but if a source of discomfort is any award that this young lady received as a result of being run over by a train, I would say that she (1) most likely has earned every penny of it as it is my understanding that a railroad shall provide conductors who have as a duty, to observe every door after passengers have exited and ensure that those doorways are clear upon having the train start up (if indeed the accident happened in this manner), and (2) that I'm delighted that she has been able to afford her surgeries, rehabilitation, and progress in her music, so that so many persons (including herself) may benefit from her talent.
  by doepack
 
Ah, the old Rachel Barton case. But there's an important question that I wish the NBC interviewer, Peter Alexander, would have asked, to wit:

Why did you choose to risk your own personal safety over a violin case that you refused to let go of when the train started moving?
  by justalurker66
 
I'm not going to old her mistake against her. It seems evil to want her dead or wish that she was suffering.
She is lucky to be alive and in a place where she is useful to society. I'm in no position to punish her.

I'm sure METRA could find a way of blowing $35 million on some thing that don't enhance the system without her help.
It is inaccurate to blame all of their woes on one passenger.
  by 3rdrail
 
I didn't know anything about the case...but I do now. What the hell, there's a legitimate case here. This isn't the guy that insured his expensive cigars against fire damage, smoked them, and then put in a claim. (When the insurance company refused, he sued and won- but the insurance co later charged him with arson !)

No matter what did or did not took place later on, at the time of the incident:
- the doors closed on her violin strap which also was around her.
- there was a question of whether she was physically trapped.
- there was a question as to whether or not the "door clear" indicator light malfunctioned.
- there was no automatic safety feature to retract the door.
- no conductor observed the doorway and cleared it at the point that it closed and prior to, and during leaving the station.
- she actually was dragged more than 300 feet (reportedly 366 ') and horribly dragged under the wheels severing one leg and mangling the other.(I can't see anybody voluntarily holding on to an item which was bringing them to almost certain death, no matter how valuable, while being dragged 300+ feet, if they could release it.)
- the only reason that she's alive is that a passenger (not train personnel) hit the emergency stop, and...
- either that passenger, or other passenger(s) applied tourniquets to her as she was bleeding to death.
- she came damned close to being killed horribly.
- she's had multiple surgeries (40+) for a period of over fourteen years.
- she is maimed for life and walks with a pronounced hobble.(I do not know if doctors were able to re-attach her leg.)
- at the very least, her professional musical career was interupted for an extended period of time.
- she's got to have emotional damage after this one.
Now - Do you think that a safety sensor on the doors should have been installed ? Do you think that the indicator light should have been checked ? Do you think that a conductor should have visually cleared the doorway for departure ? (Apparently, on-board passengers saw the whole thing.) Who applied the tourniquets ? Was it an M.D. or EMT ? If not, why was it a passenger and not a member of the train crew (on the tracks) ? Why didn't a member of the train crew signal to stop the train ? What would have happened if no passengers saw her fall and she layed on the ROW unconscious ? What sense do you get regarding METRA's control of their operation at that station and on that train that day ?

What, do you think that everything is the "bottom line" and metal and machinery, people ? Have a heart for Christ's sake ! Why was this "passed without comment", you ask ? If it were in criticism of her award, I wouldn't have commented either.
  by byte
 
This case became a subject of controversy in the Chicagoland area mostly due to the legal shenanigans which went on afterwards:

- Barton sued Metra and the C&NW for a total of $600 million, which was a hopelessly "optimistic" figure calculated to compensate her for the presumed loss of her career. The figure I quoted above, $35 million, is what was ultimately awarded.
- The whole affair could have been avoided entirely had she been in the vestibule when the train pulled into the station like almost every Metra passenger. Court records indicated that the train was stopped for somewhere between 26 and 29 seconds, which is certainly a reasonable amount of time to safely exit the train. Sufficient warning is always given to riders right before the doors close; back when the incident happened it would have probably been a crew member speaking over the PA (since replaced by automated announcements). Metra cars also have a "doors closing" dome light in the vestibule, visible to anyone who might attempt to exit - however, to be fair, I don't know if the older Pullman/St. Louis smooth-sided car this incident occurred on was equipped with such a feature.
- Said $35 million award for damages was directly responsible for a fare increase all throughout the Metra system. Right or wrong, this is where most regular riders lost sympathy. Would YOU want to pay another $10-$15 for your monthly pass to compensate for such an accident?
- The whole ordeal elevated her status from "great violinist on the north shore" to "violin superstar" due to the large amount of publicity and name recognition that came with her accident and its subsequent lawsuit. In effect, her career actually benefited from the accident.

And in the end, of that $35 million which was awarded, Barton only got to keep $15 after legal fees. That's right, she didn't even get to keep half of what was awarded. This case became the trend-setting precedent for lawyers and how they began to exploit railroads for every dollar they could.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Sgt. Joyce, I sincerely respect your perspective on this matter as a Law Enforcement Officer

I am also mindful that any railroad holding a METRA operating contract revised their Book of Rules to require a Trainman to highball the Engineer close the doors, look the length of the train and continue to do so until it was moving, then close that one door rather than the previous close 'em, highball and go.

But I can't help but note that while the litigation was pending, how she would be wheeled on to stage to perform. Now that she and METRA have settled, a prothesis is fine. I think of Ishak Perlman , who as a child was born with a birth defect and yet walks on to stage. However he does sit to perform.

But unless there is something I have greatly overlooked, I do not buy that artist's recordings, nor do I attend her concerts. When WFMT 98.7 airs a work in which she performs, it is time to tune into KLIK.

There are two sides to every story and I thank Sgt. Joyce for stepping up with the other viewpoint.

Just my thoughts.
Last edited by Gilbert B Norman on Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by justalurker66
 
byte wrote:- Said $35 million award for damages was directly responsible for a fare increase all throughout the Metra system. Right or wrong, this is where most regular riders lost sympathy. Would YOU want to pay another $10-$15 for your monthly pass to compensate for such an accident?
Would you refuse to pay $10-$15 more for your monthly pass to prevent another such accident (including witnessing said accident and all the delays such an accident causes on the line)? METRA lost because they didn't do what they should have done until it was too late. Unfortunately the citation ends up being paid for by the passengers and not the management/employees who made and perpetuated the error. But there were errors on the part of the railroad. Errors that need to be dealt with.
- The whole ordeal elevated her status from "great violinist on the north shore" to "violin superstar" due to the large amount of publicity and name recognition that came with her accident and its subsequent lawsuit. In effect, her career actually benefited from the accident.
Without a Star Trek alternate reality machine it is hard to tell where she would have gone if it had not been for the accident. It certainly has refocused her career.
And in the end, of that $35 million which was awarded, Barton only got to keep $15 after legal fees. That's right, she didn't even get to keep half of what was awarded. This case became the trend-setting precedent for lawyers and how they began to exploit railroads for every dollar they could.
That is unfortunate ... and I'm sure METRA paid their lawyers too. Lets hope that METRA's lawyers didn't clear $15-$20 million.
  by metraRI
 
Was C&NW/UP involved in the settlement? After all, crews are employed by C&NW/UP.
  by byte
 
The lawsuit was "Barton v.Chicago & North Western Transportation," so they were actually the primary defendants. C&NW recieved 62.5% of the blame, Metra 33%, and Barton herself 4.5%. I wish I knew how the damage money was split up among Metra and UP. Going by the percentage of fault determined by the court, UP would have paid around $23 million, and Metra the rest. However this doesn't mean that the UP didn't drive a hard deal with Metra during the next operating contract renewal to compensate for the loss (and the following rise in insurance rates), or that Metra was contractually liable for the whole thing because it's their service, not C&NW/UP's. I suspect it was probably the latter.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone: This is a very interesting injury case - one I now vaguely recall.
The document posted by Lurker on the court case is quite interesting.
GBN: Good MSNBC link - I would like to watch this when I have some time...MACTRAXX
  by 3rdrail
 
Anybody know who the guys were (or their occupations) who applied the tourniquets ? That was a ballsy move that saved her life. Unfortunately, most people would just stand and gawk. First responder training pretty much instructs not to use tourniquets unless in extreme bleeding episodes (which no doubt this was). A round of applause for those guys. I hope the city made something of their heroics and gave them a commendation.
  by F40CFan
 
3rdrail wrote:I didn't know anything about the case...but I do now. What the hell, there's a legitimate case here. This isn't the guy that insured his expensive cigars against fire damage, smoked them, and then put in a claim. (When the insurance company refused, he sued and won- but the insurance co later charged him with arson !)

No matter what did or did not took place later on, at the time of the incident:
- the doors closed on her violin strap which also was around her.
- there was a question of whether she was physically trapped.
- there was a question as to whether or not the "door clear" indicator light malfunctioned.
- there was no automatic safety feature to retract the door.
- no conductor observed the doorway and cleared it at the point that it closed and prior to, and during leaving the station.
- she actually was dragged more than 300 feet (reportedly 366 ') and horribly dragged under the wheels severing one leg and mangling the other.(I can't see anybody voluntarily holding on to an item which was bringing them to almost certain death, no matter how valuable, while being dragged 300+ feet, if they could release it.)
- the only reason that she's alive is that a passenger (not train personnel) hit the emergency stop, and...
- either that passenger, or other passenger(s) applied tourniquets to her as she was bleeding to death.
- she came damned close to being killed horribly.
- she's had multiple surgeries (40+) for a period of over fourteen years.
- she is maimed for life and walks with a pronounced hobble.(I do not know if doctors were able to re-attach her leg.)
- at the very least, her professional musical career was interupted for an extended period of time.
- she's got to have emotional damage after this one.
Now - Do you think that a safety sensor on the doors should have been installed ? Do you think that the indicator light should have been checked ? Do you think that a conductor should have visually cleared the doorway for departure ? (Apparently, on-board passengers saw the whole thing.) Who applied the tourniquets ? Was it an M.D. or EMT ? If not, why was it a passenger and not a member of the train crew (on the tracks) ? Why didn't a member of the train crew signal to stop the train ? What would have happened if no passengers saw her fall and she layed on the ROW unconscious ? What sense do you get regarding METRA's control of their operation at that station and on that train that day ?

What, do you think that everything is the "bottom line" and metal and machinery, people ? Have a heart for Christ's sake ! Why was this "passed without comment", you ask ? If it were in criticism of her award, I wouldn't have commented either.
1) She was not paying attention to where she was or fell asleep.

2) She rushed to the door and forgot her violin.

3) Instead of safely riding to the next station, she forced her way unsafely through closing doors.

4) When the train started moving, instead of safely removing the strap from her arm, she unsafely held on and allowed herself to be dragged.

Cars similar to these have been in use since 1950 and she is the first person to manage to get hurt this badly.

Hmmm, equipment, procedures or stupid human?