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Home / Opinions / Courts / 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals / Negligence : Wrongful Death – Fall From Train – Proximate Cause

Negligence : Wrongful Death – Fall From Train – Proximate Cause

Where a plaintiff, whose elderly father disappeared from a moving train and was later found dead by the tracks, brought a wrongful death action against Amtrak, claiming that the train’s safety features and crew training were inadequate, summary judgment for Amtrak is affirmed because the plaintiff did not establish proximate cause since the failure to install door status indicators would not have prevented the man’s fall, and the plaintiff failed to present a genuine issue of fact showing that Amtrak caused the death by failing to adequately instruct the crew on hazards for confused passengers.


Close call

Dissenting opinion by Kelly, J.: “This case asks us to make a very close call. I agree with the court that door status indicators or further instruction of the Amtrak crew would not have prevented Andrew Haukereid’s death. Therefore, Haukereid’s case rests on proving a breach of Amtrak’s duty to better secure the exit doors, and a showing that the lack of additional door safety features proximately caused Andrew to exit the train….

“If the jury could find that Andrew was in fact impaired and that his unwitting exit through the emergency side door was the most likely of circumstances, they could also find that Amtrak proximately caused his fall…While I believe this is a close case, on balance, I would conclude that Haukereid has created a dispute on a genuine issue of material fact concerning causation. I respectfully dissent.”

Judgment is affirmed.

Haukereid v. National Railroad Passenger Corporation (MLW No. 68880/Case No. 14-3752 – 14 pages) (U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit, Murphy, J.) Appealed from U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, Marshall, J. (Carter Stein, Little Rock, Arkansas, argued for appellant) (Scott H. Tucker, Little Rock, Arkansas, argued for appellee; Martin A. Kasten, Kristopher B. Knox and Mary K. McCarroll appeared on the brief).

Read the full text of this opinion. (PDF)