Metro-North asks Supreme Court to review lawsuit over a fatal fall
DARIEN — Attorneys for the Metro-North commuter rail line are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the lawsuit filed against the railroad company by the family of a Darien man who died after falling in front of an oncoming train, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune.
Kevin Murphy, a 55-year-old father of five who was a managing director at a New York-based merchant bank, was killed by an express train after he fell on to the tracks at the Noroton Heights station in March of 2013.
Murphy's widow, Jamey, is suing Metro-North on the grounds the train was traveling 70 mph on the inside track closest to the station platform with no scheduled stop when the accident occurred, the CT Law Tribune said.
The state Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling that Metro-North was not responsible for the death finding Murphy slipped on ice on the platform, causing him to fall onto the tracks and into the path of the oncoming train, the CT Tribune said.
Murphy's family is seeking monetary damages, claiming that the railroad was negligent in allowing a speeding train which was passing through to run on the tracks closest to the station, the CT Tribune said.
The family's argument that only trains who are making stops should travel on the tracks closest to the station platform and that the train was going at high speed through a station has major flaws, according to Hearst Transportation Columnist Jim Cameron.
"They argue that only trains that stop at stations may operate on the local track, the one closest to the platform, and that trains like that which killed Mr. Murphy (which was an express, not stopping at Noroton Heights) must operate on the center track, away from the platform, Cameron said.
That type of restriction would "cripple the operations of Metro-North," Cameron added. "Trains are slow enough already without encumbering dispatchers' ability to route express trains on any available track."
Cameron said while everyone is saddened at Murphy's death, it was more likely that the Darien fall on the ice would have lead to his death whether a train was moving at 80 miles per hour or 10 miles per hour. "It would not have been able to stop," Cameron said.
Attorneys for Metro-North are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 supersedes state law on the speed of trains and track placement. The attorneys contend that the state Supreme Court “founded its decision in this case on manifestly erroneous statements of the applicable rule of law,” the CT Tribune said. The petition also states that the RSA makes “clear that the train was entitled to operate at up to 80 miles per hour,” according to the CT Tribune.
Metro-North spokeswoman Nancy Gamerman declined to comment to the CT Law Tribune Wednesday.