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Trial over Hurricane teen killed by CSX train set for May 2015

By Ryan Quinn, Staff writer

WINFIELD, W.Va. — The lawsuit over a Hurricane teenager killed by a CSX Transportation train in 2012 is back in Putnam Circuit Court and has a hearing set for 2015.

In January, Richard Dwayne Ball — administrator of 16-year-old victim Jacob Dwayne Ball’s estate — filed suit against CSX, the city of Hurricane and the Putnam County Board of Education. Jacob Ball was Richard Ball’s son, according to the Putnam County Clerk’s Office, and the lawsuit states that Jacob Ball also is survived by a mother and a half-sister.

The lawsuit states that Jacob Ball was walking around CSX’s tracks on his way home from Hurricane High School on Jan. 31, 2012, when a train hit him from behind. Jacob couldn’t hear the train because he was wearing headphones and CSX failed to give an audible warning, such as a whistle, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit states that the area was the usual path for Jacob Ball, other Hurricane High students and other residents, and it argues that the defendants knew the tracks allowed access to students and other pedestrians.

“Despite the nuisance created by this area of track, there were not adequate warnings or barriers present to deter students/pedestrians,” the lawsuit states.

Richard Ball argues that CSX had the responsibility to, among other things, operate the train at a safe speed, considering the pedestrians in the area, and post adequate warnings.

“Inadequate signage and markings, a history of prior dangerous near-misses/hits and/or improper maintenance combined to render the crossing in question as ultra hazardous,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also states that Hurricane and the school district “took no action to correct or otherwise warn of the hazard and nuisance presented by this area.” Richard Ball is seeking compensation, including punitive damages, for the alleged wrongful death.

Hurricane and the school district denied negligence in their answers to the complaint. CSX argued in its answer that Jacob was trespassing and said his alleged negligence contributed to and was perhaps a greater cause of his death.

CSX tried to move the case to federal court in West Virginia’s Southern District. Chief Judge Robert C. Chambers remanded it back to Putnam Circuit Court in May, but the parties are still arguing in federal court over whether CSX should have to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs to defend against the company’s failed attempt to move the case.

Last month, Putnam Circuit Judge Phillip Stowers set a pretrial conference for April 30, 2015, and jury trial on May 18, 2015.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.


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