MEDIA – The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas earlier this year signed off on a $250,000 settlement regarding a then-11-year-old boy who was hit by a train in Darby on his way to school even though the crossing gates were down and its lights were flashing.
In a February petition to enforce the settlement, the defendants alleged that video evidence showed that the plaintiff was at least partially at fault for the accident and that he and his parents would likely not win the agreed-to amount if the case went to trial.
"According to a timer on a video that captured the incident, less than five seconds from the time Plaintiff stepped off of the sidewalk and began to run across the tracks, the train entered the crossing and Plaintiff was struck," the petition says.
"Thus, based on the totality of the circumstances, Plaintiffs negotiated a fair settlement - more than they might recover at trial - that is in the best interests of the minor, Joseph Kpakah."
In a complaint filed May 6, 2015, Kpakah, through his parents Thomas and Esther Kpakah, sued CSX Transportation Inc., CSX employees Raymond Lawrence Wash and Michael L. Doyle Sr., Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Darby Borough and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
The Kpakahs alleged that then-11-year-old Joseph Kpakah was hit by a CSX train on July 9, 2013, on his way to school.
"He did so while the gates at the crossing were down and lights were flashing, indicating the presence of an oncoming train, and while the train's horn was blowing, Plaintiff reached the end of the Sixth Street sidewalk he had been walking down, turned to look at the train approaching behind him, covered his ears with his hands, and then, unexpectedly and without warning to Defendants, ran into the crossing and in front of the oncoming CSXT train, looking over his shoulder at the train as he ran along and across the tracks," the petition says.
As a result of the accident, the plaintiffs claim that Joseph Kpakah sustained several serious injuries, including brain damage, affecting his ability to perform his normal activities and costing his parents substantial amounts of money to cover related medical expenses.
The Kpakahs sued each of the defendants for more than $50,000 amid allegations that their negligence and carelessness led to the collision.
A $250,000 agreement was reached on Nov. 9, 2016, between the Kpakahs, CSX and Wash and Doyle.
“The settlement was the result of a meeting of the minds on all essential terms,” CSX’s petition said.
The petition said “the settlement was not an admission of liability by either party, but a recognition of the risks inherent in litigation, including Joseph Kpakah’s own comparative negligence in running into the path of an oncoming train while covering his ears to block the sound of the train’s horn and whistle.”
In addition, CSX said in the motion that “Joseph Kpakah – despite being struck by a train – has had a remarkable recovery and has few, if any, impairments (as a result) of the alleged incident.”