26 settle suit in Texas veterans parade crash that killed 4
Jan. 16, 2015
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Twenty-six people who were hurt or had family members killed when a freight train struck a veterans parade float in Midland two years ago have settled their lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad, both sides said Friday.
Lawyer Kevin Glasheen, who represents the families, said the settlement is confidential but they "are very satisfied." The families of two of the four veterans killed in the November 2012 crash were part of the agreement. Many others were injured.
"It's sufficient to give them security and comfort in their lives," Glasheen said of the settlement amount.
Union Pacific spokesman Jeff DeGraff confirmed a settlement in an email but declined to give details or comment further. A trial involving 17 plaintiffs who are not part of the settlement is set for Jan. 26.
Just before the crash, the parade float filled with wounded veterans and their spouses was inching across a railroad track when the crossing gates began to lower and a freight train bore down on them, its horn blaring. Some of those seated on the float jumped off just moments before the train — traveling at more than 60 mph — crashed into the flatbed truck.
At the time, the veterans were on their way to a banquet in their honor. The four killed had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the accident on city and parade organizers, faulting a lack of safety planning by both. The plaintiffs claimed a short warning from the train crossing lights and gates was the principal cause.
The settlement came out of court-ordered mediation that took place in Dallas earlier this month, Glasheen said. The settlement still needs court approval, he said, "but we expect the court to approve without any difficulty."
All 43 plaintiffs have already settled with the driver of the float truck, the parade organizers and Smith Industries, which owned the tractor-trailer used as the parade float.
Glasheen said all the plaintiffs had some sort of physical injury, including one woman who lost her leg at the hip, and all had "bad" post-traumatic stress disorder. Many have nightmares about the wreck and some have anxiety when driving across railroad tracks, Glasheen said.
"It affected everyone very differently," he said.