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IN RE AMTRAK "SUNSET LIMITED" TRAIN CRASH

March 21, 2001

IN RE: AMTRAK "SUNSET LIMITED" TRAIN CRASH IN BAYOU CANOT, ALABAMA ON SEPTEMBER 22, 1993. THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO GARY LEE FARMER.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vollmer, Senior District Judge.

  ORDER NO. 185

This matter is before the court on the following documents:

1. "Motion to Dismiss Due to Perjury," (doc. 1808 in Master File 1:94 —
5000-RV-C; doc. 139 in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by defendants Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company and Willie Odom, together with a supporting brief. (doc. 1809 in Master File 1:94-5000-RV-C; doc. 140 in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C);*fn1

2. First Response, (doc. 1855 in Master File 1:94-5000-RV-C;

doc. 155 in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by plaintiff Gary Lee Farmer;*fn2
  3. Second Response, (doc. 1842 in Master File 1:94-5000-RV-C;
doc. 149 in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by plaintiff Farmer;*fn3,*fn4

4. Reply, (doc. 1844 in Master File 1:94-5000-RV-C; doc. 151 in

Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by defendants WGN and Odom;*fn5
5. "Motion to Strike," (doc. 1841 in Master File 1:94-5000-RV-C; doc. 148
in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by plaintiff Farmer;*fn6
6. Response to Motion to Strike, (doc. 1846 in Master File 1:94-5000 —
RV-C; doc. 153 in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by defendants;*fn7
7. "Notice of Filing Affidavit," (doc. 1843 in Master File 1:94-5000 —
RV-C; doc. 150 in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by plaintiff Farmer;*fn8 and
8. "Motion to Strike Affidavit of Barbara Braddock," (doc. 1845 in
Master File 1:94-5000-RV-C; doc. 152 in Individual File No. 1:94-5026-RV-C), filed by defendants WGN and Odom.*fn9

I. The Casualty

In the early morning of September 22, 1993, certain barges in the tow of the M/V MAUVILLA struck the railroad bridge over Bayou Canot (the "Striking"). Defendant WGN owned and operated the M/V MAUVILLA and the tow of barges that struck the bridge. Defendant Odom was the person in charge of the M/V MAUVILLA at the time of the Striking. The bridge and railroad tracks on the bridge were owned by CSX Transportation, Inc.

The Striking displaced the bridge's through-plate girder span and tracks in the westerly (upstream) direction such that the east steel girder of the span was moved into the path of oncoming northbound trains.

Shortly after the Striking, the northbound Sunset Limited (owned and operated by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)) struck the east girder of the Bayou Canot bridge and derailed at approximately 2:53-2:54 a.m., CDT, on September 22, 1993 (the "Casualty"). Neither Amtrak nor CSX received any warning before the Casualty that the M/V MAUVILLA's tow had struck and displaced the Bayou Canot bridge and tracks. Traveling between 72-74 mph when the Casualty occurred, the Sunset Limited was below the 79 mph speed limit for that class of tracks and that type of train.

The train consisted of three locomotives, a baggage car, a crew dormitory car, three passenger coaches, a lounge car, a diner car, and a sleeper car. The locomotives, the baggage car, the crew dormitory car, and two passenger cars derailed into the water of Bayou Canot. One passenger coach, the lounge car, the diner car, and the sleeper car remained on the Bayou Canot bridge and railroad roadbed.

Approximately 50 persons died in the Casualty, some upon impact and some by drowning. The Casualty was the deadliest accident in Amtrak's history.

According to the testimony of plaintiff Gary Farmer, the assistant conductor, he and the conductor were completing paperwork in the diner car located between the passenger cars and the sleeper car at the time of the Casualty.

Plaintiff Farmer testified as to the extent of the impact, how it affected him, how he gave orders to the conductor, and how he (plaintiff Farmer) took charge of the entire rescue operation. Plaintiff Farmer proceeded to participate in the rescue of the passengers.*fn10

Plaintiff Farmer seeks to recover damages for past and future mental injuries only. The bulk of his alleged mental injuries arise from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); he alleges that he is totally disabled by the PTSD he developed as a result of the Casualty.

II. The Motion to Dismiss

Defendants request that this action be dismissed with prejudice due to fraud perpetrated by plaintiff Farmer on them and on the court in this litigation. For the following reasons, the court is of the opinion that the motion is due to be granted.

A. Plaintiff Farmer's Interrogatory Answers

On November 7, 1994, plaintiff Farmer gave the following answers, under oath, to written interrogatories served on him by defendants:

8. Have you ever pleaded guilty to or been convicted of any crime punishable by imprisonment in excess of one year, or any crime involving dishonesty or false statement? If so, please state:

(a) The nature of the offense.

(b) The date.

(c) The county and state in which you were tried.

(d) The sentence given you.

ANSWER: No.

51. Have you ever applied for or drawn social security benefits for disability? If so, state:

(a) The nature and extent of the disability;

(b) The length of time of such disability and the beginning date.

ANSWER: No.

53. Please state whether immediately before the casualty you suffered from any physical aliments or disability. If so, describe in detail each such ailment or disability.

ANSWER: None, excellent health.

Mot. to Dis. Ex. 6 (emphasis added).

Also on November 7, 1994, plaintiff Farmer gave the following answers, under oath, to written interrogatories served on him by co-defendants Amtrak and CSX:

4. If you have ever been arrested for or convicted of any misdemeanor or felony, state the date of the arrest or conviction, the location of the arrest or conviction, the case number of the action, the charge or offense involved, the disposition of the case, and the sentence served or fine paid, if any.

ANSWER: No.

5. Describe in detail your medical history for the past ten years, including but not limited to the name, address and telephone number of each and every physician, clinic of [sic] hospital or other health care provider who has treated, examined or cared for you, the approximate dates of that treatment, the types of treatment provided, the reasons for that treatment and the medicines prescribed as part of that treatment.
ANSWER: In the past 10 years, I have enjoyed excellent health with absolutely no medical treatment other than the required company physicals. Since the time of the derailment, I have been continually treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Dr. William Osborn at the Sassafras Hill Counseling Center and by Dr. Gary D. Carr at the Oak Grove Clinic in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Mot. to Dis. Ex. 6 (emphasis added).

Approximately ten months later, on August 23, 1995, plaintiff Farmer supplemented his answers to defendant WGN's interrogatories:

38. State the name and address of each health care professional (including hospital) who had provided any examination, treatment or care to you since 1990, stating the injury or condition for which you were treated.
ANSWER: Dr. Mark S. Seigel, MD Springhill Memorial Hospital 3719 Dauphin Street Mobile, AL 36608 Dr. William T. Osborn Sassafras Hill Counseling Center, Inc. 4824 Old Highway 11 Purvis, MS 39475-9339 Dr. Gary D. Carr, MD Oak Grove Family Clinic 4902 Old Highway 11 Hattiesburg, MS 39402
For ten years prior to the derailment in September 1993, the Plaintiff has enjoyed excellent health and have [sic] not had any medical treatment or examinations other than company physicals. On the day of the accident, he was taken to the emergency room of the Springhill Memorial Hospital. He was having mild pain in the left side of his lower back and low abdomen. He had some bumps on his shins. He was discharged on the same day from the emergency room. He has also been treated at the Oak Grove Family Clinic in Hattiesburg, MS by Dr. Gary D. Carr. Furthermore, he has been treated at the Sassafras Hill Counseling Center, Inc. by Dr. William P. Osborn. He has been diagnosed and currently being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.).

Mot. to Dis. Ex. 7 (emphasis added).

As explained below, plaintiff Farmer's answers to the foregoing interrogatories were false.

B. Plaintiff Farmer's Criminal History

As evidenced by the certified copies of records obtained from various law enforcement agencies in Florida, plaintiff Farmer was arrested/charged 23 times over a 6-year period (July 1982 - July 1988) for 41 crimes resulting in 20 convictions. Eight of the 20 convictions were felony convictions. As plaintiff Farmer now admits, he served eighteen months of a 40-month sentence in a Florida penitentiary for at least one of the convictions.

Plaintiff Farmer suggests that he had a "lapse of memory" when he gave the false answers to the interrogatories. Such explanation is incredulous, if only because of the sheer number of felony convictions plaintiff Farmer amassed. However, the suggestion that a person would forget that he had been confined in a state penitentiary for 18 months is even more ludicrous.

C. Plaintiff Farmer's Health Prior to the Casualty and His Application for Social Security Benefits

Not only were plaintiff Farmer's answers regarding his criminal history perjurious, his statements that he had never applied for social security benefits and that he had "enjoyed ...


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