In Perez v. Amtrak, venued in San Francisco Superior Court, a former Amtrak employee brought a FELA claim alleging that he sustained severe disabling psychological injuries when he witnessed a northbound Amtrak train strike and kill a pedestrian who had run underneath the train at a crossing. At the time, the employee was performing maintenance on equipment near the railroad crossing, approximately 50 feet south of impact. The employee alleged that, due to his proximity to the train at the time of impact, he was in the zone of danger of imminent physical harm. In opposition to Amtrak’s summary judgment motion, the employee submitted a declaration stating that he was in imminent fear of bodily harm at the time the train struck the pedestrian, based in part on his prior experience witnessing dozens of pedestrian fatalities and having knowledge of the spread of debris typical in such situations. The trial court granted Amtrak’s summary judgment motion, agreeing with Amtrak that under Consolidated Rail Corp. v. Gottshall (U.S. 1994) and Bloom v. Consolidated Rail Corp. (3d Cir. 1994), the employee could not reasonably claim that, under these circumstances, he was in the zone of danger inherent in a collision between a passenger train and a pedestrian. The LLC team was headed by Partner Vince Castillo and Associate Alexei Offill-Klein.
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