A Rosedale waste company and its owner cannot “turn the tables” on CSX Transportation Inc. by filing a separate lawsuit over a collision at an unmarked railroad crossing last May, a federal judge ruled.
Judge James K. Bredar dismissed Alban Waste LLC’s declaratory judgment action against CSXT, the train’s driver and about 40 other defendants in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
The second lawsuit is unnecessary because all the claims can be resolved in the suit CSXT filed against Alban last June, Bredar wrote.
John J. Alban Jr., the owner of the company, was driving his trash truck over the unmarked crossing when it was struck by the CSX freight train in Rosedale on May 28.
The 45-car train, which was carrying ink, dye, chemicals and paper, was derailed and two train cars blew up, an explosion that could be felt a half-mile away.
Alban Waste filed its lawsuit in February against CSXT and dozens of defendants who, it said, have sued or threatened to sue Alban.
Many of the defendants are insurance companies representing people or businesses near the crash site, who allege property damage or personal injuries.
Alban’s suit did not seek any damages, but asked the court to declare that it was not liable for the crash.
“The Albans seek effectively to turn the tables and make the logical plaintiffs, most of whom have not yet filed suit … the defendants in the declaratory judgment action,” Bredar wrote.
Bredar, however, said Alban failed to allege a cause of action by only asking for declaratory relief and rehashing the claims and defenses in CSXT’s lawsuit.
Bredar granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss and dismissed and closed the case.
“A declaratory judgment action is not needed here against either CSXT or [the employee operating the train] because pending cases provide sufficient fora to hear any claims the Albans may want to make against them,” Bredar wrote.
Alban’s attorney, Mark D. Palmer of Bacon, Thornton & Palmer LLP in Greenbelt, and CSX’s attorney, Ava E. Lias-Booker of McGuire Woods LLP in Baltimore, did not respond to requests for comment.
Rosedale-based Alban Waste claims CSXT was negligent by failing to maintain the tracks, allowing vegetation to grow and obscure the view of the oncoming train and failing to provide stop signs and warning lights at the proper location.
Alban also claims the train’s driver failed to reduce its speed and was not paying attention to vehicles near the tracks.
In CSXT’s lawsuit, it asked for damages for loss of the freight it was carrying, replacement of damaged rails, environmental cleanup, train delays and the loss of two train cars.
CSXT, which is based in Jacksonville, Fla., said Alban failed to exercise due care by failing to look and listen for an oncoming train.
Four people were injured in the crash, including Alban, but no one died. While police charged Alban with a number of traffic offenses, he was found not guilty last October.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary investigation found the intersection had no active warning lights or gates and that the two yellow railroad stop signs were significantly faded and “displaced from their original mountings.”
The NTSB has not yet issued a final report.