Amtrak and BNSF Railway Company have filed a lawsuit against a Cimarron, Kansas, cattle feed company whose truck allegedly damaged the railroad tracks in southwestern Kansas and caused a Chicago-bound passenger train to derail last month.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas, accuses Cimarron Crossing Feeders LLC of negligence in damaging the tracks and seeks more than $75,000 in damages.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the March 14 derailment, which injured 32 passengers, including at least two critically, tracing fresh tire tracks in the area of the damaged track back to the Cimarron Crossings feed truck and facility.
The lawsuit alleges that on March 13, the company’s employees were in the process of loading the truck with grain when the vehicle, unattended, out-of-gear, and with no brakes applied, rolled away from the Cimarron facility downhill, crossing U.S. Highway 50 and striking the side of the BNSF-owned railroad track.
The impact caused a displacement of the track extending more than a foot, the lawsuit alleges. After the accident, the company sent employees onto the tracks to retrieve the truck, never notifying BNSF, Amtrak, or law enforcement officials or government authorities about their presence on the tracks or the damage done to them.
“Cimarron and its agents, officers, or employees knew or should have known that the truck caused damaged to the railroad roadbed and track structure and, consequently, that the damaged condition of the railroad roadbed and track structure posed a danger for trains operating on the tracks as well as the passengers and crew aboard the trains,” the lawsuit alleges.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, consisting of two locomotives and 10 cars, was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago when it derailed just after midnight on the 14th. The train was carrying 131 passengers and 1 crew at the time.