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B.C. woman sues CN Rail, says warning lights didn't activate until too late

Lawsuit alleges injuries after train collided with vehicle plaintiff was riding in
A Maple Ridge woman filed a lawsuit against CN Rail on June 17, 2024.

A Maple Ridge woman is suing CN Rail and other parties for damages, alleging she was injured when a car she was riding in was in a collision with a train.

Hongju Wang filed a notice of civil claim at the Supreme Court of B.C. in Vancouver on Monday, June 17.

Her lawsuit names the railway, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation, the federal Minister of Transport, and a CN engineer, conductor and another employee. It says the collision was caused or contributed to by the negligence of the defendants.

The claim says Wang suffered serious injuries to her neck, back, left arm and shoulder, right leg and more. The claim mentions headaches, dizziness, flashbacks, shock, sleeplessness, anxiety, decreased focus, memory issues, and photophobia.

"These injuries have caused and continue to cause the plaintiff pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of housekeeping capacity, permanent physical disability, loss of physical, mental and emotional health and loss of earning, past and prospective," said the statement of claim.

The alleged crash happened on Aug. 3, 2022 in Richmond, at an uncontrolled railway crossing where Granville Avenue crosses the railway tracks, between No. 4 and No. 5 roads.

"At the time of the collision, the warning system, in particular the flashing lights and bells, in place at the railway crossing, did not activate until the train was within only a few feet of the railway crossing," says the claim. 

It further alleges there was "significantly overgrown vegetation that blocked the full view of the railway tracks for motorists..."

The claim says CNR failed to operate the railway safely, and did not post prominent signs, lights, bells or crossing gates at the crossing to warn the public of the crossing. It also says the crossing was not maintained, the train was not operating at a safe speed, and there was not warning of the trains' approach with a visible signal.

The suit also alleges the CNR was negligent in "hiring incompetent employees" to maintain the railway crossing, and operate the train.

"Transport Canada's specific knowledge of the dangers posed by inadequate railway safety requirements arose out of a series of numerous railway crashes at grade crossings in Canada over several years, with numerous deaths and serious injuries resulting in those crashes," reads the claim.

It says the provincial ministry has a duty to ensure safe operation for motorists on roads and highways in B.C., and protect all motorists at railway crossings.

Wang will ask for general, special and in-trust damages; costs; past and future health care costs; and other relief "this honourable court may seem just."

CN Rail has yet to file a response or counter claim, which is generally due 21 days after the notice of civil claim.

None of the claims in the lawsuit have yet been tested in court.

Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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