Michigan Appeals Court Reinstates Lawsuit Against Railroad In 2012 Trespassing Case

A Michigan appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the Grand Trunk Western Railroad stemming from a 2012 incident in which a teenager was struck by a train.

The case was brought by Jacob Marion who was 14 at the time he was hit. A court summary of the case indicated that Marion was walking down the tracks in Wyandotte in suburban Detroit while wearing headphones and listening to music.

A trial court judge had dismissed the case in 1989, citing evidence that the train crew sought to warn Marion but he didn’t respond.

In the appeals court decision, Judge Elizabeth Gleicher wrote that “a reasonable jury could conclude that [the] defendants had Jacob in plain sight and recognized his peril for a period of time sufficient to react so as not to strike him.”

The appeals court noted that although the train crew sounded the locomotive horn it did not activate the train’s emergency braking system in time to avoid striking Marion.

It also said trial judge Annette Berry in 1989 incorrectly interpreted a nineteenth century precedent as authority for dismissing the Marion’s case. The appeals court said tort law has come a long way since that case involving a deaf person struck by a hand car was decided in 1899.

The case was remanded to a Wayne County court for further consideration.

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