The suit field in Midland County District Court names Union Pacific Railroad and Smith Industries Inc., the owner of the truck serving as the parade float whose employee was driving at the time of the accident. The driver personally was not named in the suit but lawyers said depending on how the case moves forward, he could be added as a defendant, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported Wednesday.
Several other veterans injured in the Nov. 15 accident have also filed lawsuits, the newspaper said, and lawyers for the families of the two men killed said they would consider consolidating the cases.
The suit alleges Union Pacific did not maintain a train crossing with adequate timely warning of an approaching train both visually or audibly. The train speed limit at the crossing was increased from 45 mph to 70 mph in 2006, but Texas Department of Transportation documents show the crossing censors that trigger the warning system were never moved back from the original installation of 1,600 feet when the speed limit was increased. They should have been placed 4,000 feet before the crossing to accommodate for the increased speed. Had that happened, the families' lawyers said those on the float would have been alerted to a train coming 10 seconds earlier and potentially been able to flee to safety.
Records show the train was traveling 62 mph when it struck the parade float, the newspaper said.
"We think that those few extra seconds would have prevented the accident completely or the guys could have gotten their wives off and themselves off to safety," lawyer Kevin Glasheen said. "They were moving fast as it was; they just didn't have time. It's clear that what they needed was time, and the railroad cheated on those 10 seconds."