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I have heard that there are what I guess you could call "middle class hoboes", people with regular jobs / homes etc. but who spend their summer vacations riding the rails. I remember long ago hearing an interview with one where he said he sewed a credit card and his I.D. into the lining of his (old) clothing, and when he decided he'd had enough of hobo life, he'd use the credit card to buy a ticket back home.

In the 1950's, when I was lucky enough to ride the real D&RGW narrow gauge, there were signs along the track from Montrose down to Ouray, at some road crossings, stating, "Property of the D&RGW RR.  Persons entering upon or crossing over are trespassers, and assume all risks".                                                Yet, aren't there cases, perhaps such as that woman, who got splatted, on the trespassing camera crew , and others who win cases when the train doesn't stop on a dime and allow plaintiff to tippy-toe across the tracks?  I have had the sense that courts could treat RR property like Swedish "Allemans Rett", where you can put your tent up anywhere you wish, say, on a highway median, so the rights are accorded to the trespasser.  As in  crossing accidents.

In the 1950's, when I was lucky enough to ride the real D&RGW narrow gauge, there were signs along the track from Montrose down to Ouray, at some road crossings, stating, "Property of the D&RGW RR.  Persons entering upon or crossing over are trespassers, and assume all risks".                                                Yet, aren't there cases, perhaps such as that woman, who got splatted, on the trespassing camera crew , and others who win cases when the train doesn't stop on a dime and allow plaintiff to tippy-toe across the tracks?

No.

I have had the sense that courts could treat RR property like Swedish "Allemans Rett", where you can put your tent up anywhere you wish, say, on a highway median, so the rights are accorded to the trespasser.  As in  crossing accidents.

No, again!

I have only encountered 2 train riders in 5 years in S. Florida, both times I trespassed them and escorted them off the yard.  SAO's down here dismiss 99.99% of trespassing cases anyways.  Our problem is when the train stops in certain areas, we get hit bad, last time 12 units were opened and emptied, before the locals and we got there. That and the homeless encampments that spring up on the mainline.

Here in Florida we are appointed by the Governor and have Statewide jurisdiction, both for FSS and CFR cases.

@Byrdie posted:

Attractive nuisance is pretty clear that it only applies to children, not adults who have the ability to reason.

except for when it doesn't.  There was an incident with a steam excursion some years back where someone standing on a bridge took their photo, then ran to the other side to get a going-away shot, and was hit by a car.  They sued the group running the excursion.  Long story short, attractive nuisance was the end result and the organizing group settled.

@SeptaTony posted:

UPDATE: this turned out to be false and an urban legend.

Haven't you heard about the burglar who sued for $500k because he was trapped in the garage of the house he broke into?

In the process of exiting a house he had just entered and burglarized, he found that his planned escape route through the garage was a dead end as the door opener would not function and he was unable to open the garage door. Turning back to re-enter the house, he found that the connecting door had locked behind him! He was forced to spend the next eight days with only a case of Pepsi and a bag of dry dog food.

Mr. Dickson, upon regaining his freedom from the garage, filed a suit against the homeowner’s insurance company on the basis of his having suffered mental anguish during his unintended confinement. Incredibly, the jury determined that Mr. Dickson was to be paid $500,000 for his suffering.

Like many of these kinds of rumors, or "urban legends" that get started, this is fake. There are many of these kinds of made-up stories that float around.  The vast majority of them are completely, or at least mostly, false, but people buy into them.

The urban legend Web site www.snopes.com (and there are others) has a good essay on the imaginary lawsuits, all of which it investigated and found to be false. The fake story posted above is one mentioned. In fact, with this particular urban myth, the local police confirmed that it had no record of any cases involving Terrence Dickson, the dog-food-eating burglar. It is completely made up.

Last edited by breezinup
@wjstix posted:


BTW in Minnesota, state law gives a railroad conductor the same power to arrest as a sheriff of the county the train is in.

And as for railroad police, the ones I've seen carry sidearms. Arrest authority they have. We have a large hospital nearby, and they have a small in-house police department (the city has police jurisdiction as well). Those hospital police are armed and have full arrest authority. In all areas with which I'm familiar, game wardens are also equivalent of sheriffs, armed and with full arrest authority. In many/most jurisdictions, they have greater powers, in fact, because they have power to seize property as well.

Last edited by breezinup
@kgdjpubs posted:

except for when it doesn't.  There was an incident with a steam excursion some years back where someone standing on a bridge took their photo, then ran to the other side to get a going-away shot, and was hit by a car.  They sued the group running the excursion.  Long story short, attractive nuisance was the end result and the organizing group settled.

Can't find it in a Google search.  Perhaps you'd like to prove that it's more than urban legend?  I'm not requiring it, just stating that attractive nuisance is pretty clear that it only applies to children, specifically those who aren't old enough to rationalize that the "attraction" has an inherent danger - such as an unfenced swimming pool  could lead to drowning.  Adults (at least those who are not compromised) are expected to be rational enough to understand those dangers.

At this point, I've said my piece and am not interested in venturing any further off topic.

@breezinup posted:

And as for railroad police, the ones I've seen carry sidearms. Arrest authority they have. We have a large hospital nearby, and they have a small in-house police department (the city has police jurisdiction as well). Those hospital police are armed and have full arrest authority. In all areas with which I'm familiar, game wardens are also equivalent of sheriffs, armed and with full arrest authority. In some juristictions, they have greater powers, in fact, because they have power to seize property as well.

Good points.  People would do well to understand what authority different agents and agencies have. Police in Texas are police regardless. The are responsible to their specific agency bit are licensed by the state as Peace Officers. Some interesting points is that university police in Texas hold county wide jurisdiction in any and every county within which the university owns, leases, or rents property.  Game Warden's in Texas have a much higher level of arrest authority along with search and seizure.  Railroad Police in Texas have similar authority and range as university police above. Regardless of called police in Texas they are police as Texas prohibits anyone not licensed as a Peace Officer to identify as police or law enforcement.

@Byrdie posted:

Can't find it in a Google search.  Perhaps you'd like to prove that it's more than urban legend?  I'm not requiring it, just stating that attractive nuisance is pretty clear that it only applies to children, specifically those who aren't old enough to rationalize that the "attraction" has an inherent danger - such as an unfenced swimming pool  could lead to drowning.  Adults (at least those who are not compromised) are expected to be rational enough to understand those dangers.

At this point, I've said my piece and am not interested in venturing any further off topic.

Probably wouldn't be able to find it these days.  This was late 80s/early 90s and the case never went to trial.  I know the organization in question, although mentioning it here won't really help much.  I do not know the exact year, and they ran many trips over this line and if the specific road bridge was mentioned, it has been lost to time (although there aren't that many road bridges over the tracks on that specific route).  The story was told to me several years ago by the president of said organization at the time it happened.  They had lawyers in the group who were willing to take it to trial, but in the end, they decided to settle out of court given the unpredictable nature of juries.

My conductor son tells me that DPU’s are supposed to be fully secured at a trains originating terminal.

The leader in a headend consist is generally locked from the inside by the crew. Trailing locomotives are left unlocked in the event a crewman has to pass through them to address a problem in one. Of the two cab access doors on a wide cab locomotive, only the nose door can be locked from the outside. The rear facing door behind the engineer can only be locked from the inside.

CW

As far as the swimming pool deal, I know my community has an ordinance that if you have a swimming pool it has to be in an entirely fenced-in yard. As I understand it, if you don't and a kid wanders into your backyard and drowns, you could be held to have at least some responsibility. If your yard is properly fenced in and a kid scales the fence and jumps in the pool and drowns, you've done "due diligence" and would not be able to be sued or tried.

It might be interesting to trace back where some of the 'urban myths' about lawsuits being out of control come from...I suspect some may have been started by large companies having trouble with lawsuits, like tobacco companies or major polluters, who would like to see the existing laws softened.

The reason we see so many stories of lawsuits is that there are in fact a lot of lawsuits. One of the problems is you can sue for anything and the way the legal system works there is a reluctance to throw out crap cases and fine the lawyers bringing them (it doesn't help that with lawyers, there is often a lot more supply then demand).  When I was getting my masters in management the business law classes had a lot with liability and how it works, and the problem is that it isn't always so clear.  Having been on civil juries I can tell you it isn't easy, because at least in NJ it looks like there are no guidelines, juries are expected to come up with a verdict and amount basically on their own. I had what was basically a whiplash case (one old lady rear ended another one, it was a really low speed impact, take it from me), and the person suing was suing for like a million bucks for injuries and the like. One of the injuries was agreed to by both lawyers from the accident, the other one we felt was not caused by this incident. Based on that we had to come up with a number....we had a good jury that was rational, and came up with what I think was a fair judgement (it was prob like 1.5% of what they asked for).

The thing is, with a lot of these cases, the company settles because it would be more expensive to litigate it, lawyers don't come cheap when you are a defense lawyer (on the other hand, plaintiffs lawyers often operate on fee contingency, they collect if you win).

The other thing is when these go to trial what you don't see is what happens down the road. Huge jury verdicts make big headlines, but often trial judges and then appellate judges reduce the verdicts significantly because they realize juries often operate out of emotion or frankly not knowing (why legislatures don't give guidelines, well, I leave that one to others, that is political, don't want to go there). The husband of a woman I was friends with was a state supreme court judge in the Bronx (this was late 80's) and handled lawsuits against NYC. Bronx Juries are often synonymous with huge awards, and from her I know that most of those end up a fraction of what they got from the jury, and in more than a few cases the judge sets aside the verdict and award on the grounds it wasn't backed by the facts in the case (I don't know the process after that, I assume it goes to appeal).

In terms of suing a company, the standard is supposed to be 'reasonable man' status (and I know there are lawyers on here, and they likely have much better knowledge than I, this comes again from my management training). Obviously a railroad cannot protect everything and no trespassing signs and enforcing that when they find violators would (in my opinion) be considered enough under reasonable man standards.  On the other hand, if the railroad had something that was shown to be dangerous and an 'attractive nuisance', like let's say an abandoned turntable that teenagers were hanging out at or whatnot, and they didn't for example make an attempt to put a fence around it to keep them out, kids got hurt, they still didn't do anything, they could be held liable for not taking 'reasonable precautions'.

I did see a lot of cases that made me scratch my head (like a lawsuit against Toyota where a woman had imbibed a bottle of jack daniels, was driving with a BAC of like 1.5, went off the road, was thrown from the truck [not wearing seatbelts], was severely injured, and sued toyota , despite the fact that the truck had no recalls against it, met all standards, etc..and was given a huge settlement, judge upheld the award. Appeals court threw it out entirely, ruled that the jury and the judge totally misread the law and acted out of emotion, not the law).

A lot of us don’t really care if someone is riding the train to be honest. Really the only time we’ll call it in is if the person is in danger of killing themself. None of us are willing to confront someone ourselves though. It’s not our job to “protect” the stuff we’re hauling, nor handle people hitching a ride. That’s why they have railroad police. Only issue with that is there’s not nearly enough and by the time they get out there the person is typically gone.

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