A federal judge has ordered the trucking company involved in a deadly train crash that killed six near Reno, NV, last June to provide a truck of the same make, model and year of the rig involved in the accident to Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad (UP) for inspection, according to a report in the Reno Gazette Journal.
Amtrak and Union Pacific filed a motion last week asking U.S. Magistrate Valerie Cooke to force John Davis Trucking to provide the duplicate truck and trailer because the vehicle involved in the crash was destroyed and consequently railroad experts are not able to take measurements for their accident reconstruction.
Amtrak and UP were also ordered by the judge to give the trucking company copies of onboard train video footage of the crash and the black box event recorder taken from the damaged train.
Lawyers and experts for both railroads and John Davis Trucking are in Reno this week to inspect truck debris and the rail crossing on U.S. 95 in preparation for lawsuits they’ve filed against each other in U.S. District Court in Reno.
The railroads’ federal suits claim John Davis Trucking was negligent in training and hiring its drivers and maintaining safe vehicles. John Davis Trucking claims the railroads failed to maintain a safe crossing. Union Pacific owns the track that Amtrak uses.
The crash occurred June 24 about 70 miles east of Reno. More than 200 passengers were aboard the Amtrak train that was struck and burst into a fireball when truck driver Lawrence Ruben Valli crashed through the rail crossing. The truck driver and five passengers on the train died and dozens of passengers were injured.
A lawyer representing the trucking company objected to the order to produce a truck from its fleet for the railroads to inspect. “Essentially, what Amtrak is doing is asking John Davis Trucking to prove Amtrak’s case,” Steven Jaffe said in a motion. “If they want to know what atractor-trailer looks like, they should go out and find one.”
In addition to the federal cases, seven lawsuits as a result of the accident are pending in Washoe District Court. All of the suits name the trucking company and several also name Amtrak.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, but its final report on the cause of the accident may not be available until next year.