Legal Battle Far From Over for 2011 Reno Train-Truck Crash

On June 24, 2011, a John Davis Trucking truck driven by Lawrence Valli crashed on an Amtrak train near Reno, Nevada. The collision killed the truck driver and 5 of the train passengers while dozens of people were also injured. This accident led to the filing of a lawsuit by Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak against John Davis Trucking. In August 2012, truck accident lawyer Steve Jaffe, speaking on behalf of the trucking company, filed various documents implying that the video filed in court by Union Pacific Railroad was altered. He also filed statements from new witnesses which proved that the rail crossing gates weren’t fully functional when the accident occurred.


Also, the truck accident attorney claimed that the video presented by the rail companies had no bearing in the case because the audio didn’t catch the sound of the collision impact, the fuel explosion, or the smashing of metal. Further reacting on the video, Jaffe claimed that if the northbound traffic gates had been down at the moment the crash occurred, it would have been broken or destroyed. Thus, the lawyer filed for a motion to dismiss the 2 federal cases filed by Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad.


Both rail companies claimed that truck driver Lawrence Valli didn’t pay attention to the warnings: the flashing lights and the gates at the rail crossing. However, truck accident lawyer Jaffe filed documents with the court which proved that the rail companies destroyed or altered evidences to show that the gates were indeed working. On August 1, 2012, US District Court Judge Howard McKibben dismissed the motion on evidence filed by Jaffe because it was filed with the court without waiting for the other parties to complete their trade of discovery materials. However, Judge McKibben granted truck accident attorney’s motion to seal particular materials on August 8 which supported Jaffe’s motion to dismiss. According to Steve Jaffe, the evidence has to be sealed because it hadn’t been released by NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board).


The railroad companies also filed their objections to Steve Jaffe’s motion to dismiss. Reacting to the objections, Steve Jaffe presented statements by witnesses who claimed that the rail crossing gates were not working when the accident happened. One witness, Steve Hamilton, testified through his written statement that he was driving north on that fateful morning the accident occurred and he didn’t notice the warning lights were flashing on the railroad crossing. He also claimed that for northbound traffic, the railroad gate crossing had a cord or rope dangling from it and that it was at a 33-45 degree angle.


Although the rail companies have disputed that the rail crossing gate had been damaged by the accident, truck accident attorney Jaffe provided pictures which proved that the tip of the gate was damaged during a crash on the same site in 2010. Another witness for John Davis Trucking, Adam Arthur Cheatham, claimed that the collision impact was so great and produced a very loud noise. When he got out of the train coach, he saw long skid marks which showed that the truck did attempt to stop. In his written statement, Cheatham also testified that the rail crossing wasn’t damaged when he inspected it. There are at least 15 pending lawsuits between John Davis Trucking, and Amtrak and United Pacific Railroad. Three of which were filed in the Reno’s District Court.


St. Louis Truck Accident Lawyer

Since 1991, our Truck Accident Lawyers have been standing up for the rights of accident victims in St. Louis, Missouri and Illinois. Our firm’s principle, David Zevan, is a member of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice Interstate Trucking Litigation Group.


If you or someone you love has been the victim of a truck accident, contact the Truck Accident Lawyers of the Zevan and Davidson Law Firm at (314) 588-7200 to discuss your case today!

Call (314) 588-7200 or Free Truck Accident Lawyer Consultation


photo credit: Slideshow Bruce

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