Update: Trespass atop rail car, win $24 million

Updating our item of Oct. 2006: a Pennsylvania federal judge has declined to set aside a $24 million jury verdict “against two railroad companies for injuries suffered by two teenagers climbing on a train car parked near Lancaster in 2002.” U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence F. Stengel lambasted attorneys for defendants Amtrak and Norfolk Southern for having at trial “‘demeaned’ the two young men ‘for their lack of intelligence, judgment and common sense in choosing to climb to the top of the boxcar.'” Stengel upheld the jury’s assignment of all the blame for the accident to the railroads and none to the youths, who were both 17 at the time. (Janet Kelley, “$24M verdict upheld in railroad burn case”, Lancaster New Era, Apr. 2).


  • How did Stengel get on the bench. Atop a railroad car would be more appropriate for him

    What about the limit on the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages of 9 to 1?

  • The PA state Supreme Court has a policy against rewarding a crime with a civil judgment. The US court should respect the policy of a court that is senior to it, in every way.

  • I guess it does pay to be stupid.

  • I always thought that a plaintiff could not recover as a matter of law in a case like this. The attractive nuisance doctrine should not apply to 17 year olds.