Couple Get Award in O.C. Train Wreck Suit
Los Angeles Times
By Claire Luna
May 21, 2005
An Orange County jury on Friday ordered the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to pay $2.8 million to the parents of a Riverside commuter who died in a 2002 Metrolink accident in Placentia.
Burlington Northern operated the milelong freight train that smashed into the double-decker commuter train the morning of April 23, 2002, killing Lawrence Sorenson, 48, and two others and injuring hundreds.
Jurors deliberated for four hours after a two-day trial in Santa Ana. Lawyers for the railroad, which admitted it was at fault, had urged them to give Ken and Lillian Sorenson no more than $1 million because of the Calimesa couple’s ages: Ken is 74; Lillian is 73.
“The jurors recognized with the size of the award the significant relationship that Mr. Sorenson’s parents played in his life,” said Brian Panish, an attorney for the parents. “This sends a message to the railroad to step up and finally be accountable.”
The jury voted 9-3 in favor of the award. Two of the jurors who disagreed wanted to give the parents more money, Panish said.
Attorneys for the railroad did not return calls seeking comment.
The Sorensons’ lawsuit is one of more than 150 filed after the crash.
Federal investigators concluded in 2003 that the accident was caused by an inattentive Burlington Northern crew that missed a warning signal and the lack of an automatic braking system on the freight train.
The lawsuits allege that the braking system, long sought by the Federal Railroad Administration, could have prevented the collision. The lawsuits also allege that the crew was fatigued from overwork and that the conductor had a history of missing signals.
Lawrence Sorenson was a software engineer with a Santa Ana consulting company. He took the train to work every day from his Riverside home.
His parents learned of his death while celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary during a cruise in Hawaii.
Copyright © Panish Shea & Boyle, LLP – Metrolink Train Collision Lawyers – Los Angeles Train Accident Attorneys – All rights reserved.
Placentia Train Accident Attorney Disclaimer: The train crash, train accident, metrolink train crash, Glendail train derailment, or other legal information presented at this site should not be considered formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter. Please note that you are not considered a client until you have signed a retainer agreement and your case has been accepted by us.