Mother served with lawsuit two years after son killed in CN Rail crash

Matthew Coutts
July 11, 2013

It not a celebratory time for the rail industry, in terms of the kind of headlines it is making these days.

Take this story about a two-year-old collision near Glencoe, Ont., between a train and a truck, which left the truck driver dead and six train passengers injured.

This week the driver's mother, Sharon Jobson, was served with a $500,000 lawsuit from CN Rail.

The Toronto Star reports that the lawsuit alleges 22-year-old John Jobson caused the July 29, 2011 collision through negligence in his driving. His mother, the executor of his estate, has until July 29 of this year to respond to the lawsuit.

Perhaps you can't fault a company for its timing, but suing a mother on the second anniversary of her son's death is dodgy. Whether the suit should have come at all, however, is a matter of debate.

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A Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash determined that the train was being operated "in accordance with regulatory and company procedures." It also found that Jobson would have had ample warning and opportunity to stop for the train – at a rural crossing he was familiar with.

"In this occurrence, the vehicle driver did not comply with the existing signage. The skid marks on the pavement, extending to the south rail, indicate that the brakes were applied suddenly and that the vehicle did not stop prior to entering the crossing," the report reads.

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The report did not, however, that the circumstances of the crossing would have impeded the train engineer and the driver from seeing one another well in advance of the crash.

All this does not mean CN Rail has an open-and-shut case for Jobson's estate to cover the cost of damages, but it does suggest there is a case to be made. But the timing, back to the timing, is a sour pill indeed.

The Jobson family had just succeeded in a missing to have a gate and warning lights installed at the crossing. The anniversary of their son’s death could have been met with a tempered celebration. Now, this.

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