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Wrongful death lawsuits can be about much more than money

A recent accident that took place while a film crew was on a railroad bridge claimed the life of one woman and left six of her colleagues injured when a freight train crashed into them as they were filming. The parents of the woman have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the producers of the film and several other parties, claiming that the eighteen corporate and individual defendants were collectively legally responsible for the accident.

The deceased woman’s father claims that the wrongful death suit is about drawing attention of filmmakers to safety concerns. According to him, although some filmmakers have already learned on their own from the accident about the need to ensure safety, others still care too much about profits. T he lawsuit, he believes, will be a way of teaching the profit-oriented people a lesson by punishing them in a way that they will understand: with money. 

Among the parties named as defendants in the lawsuit besides the producers are the director, senior assistants and executives in the production crew. The companies that own the train tracks and property surrounding the tracks were also named in the suit

The lawsuit alleges various examples of negligence on the part of the defendants. Among its claims are that the filming on the bridge went forward even though important permits to do so had not been acquired, and that the producers were misinformed about the number of trains that would cross the track that day. Additionally, the suit claims that the property owner misled the crew about train schedules, and although the train company had denied permits to shoot on the tracks, they should have taken more precautions as they filming would be happening in the area.

The lawsuit in this case shows that in some cases, compensating surviving relatives for the loss of a loved one as a result of negligence is not the only reason for filing a legal claim. Wrongful death lawsuits may also serve a larger social responsibility function, such as helping to prompt industry-wide changes that protect the safety of people in Kentucky and the rest of the country.

Source: Lexington Herald-Leader, "Father: Allman film lawsuit part of 'wake-up call'," Russ Bynum, May 22, 2014

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