Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Kentucky Teacher Killed at Dangerous, Unguarded, and Vegetation Obstructed Short Line Crossing

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Leitchfield, Kentucky – September 28, 2018)

A beloved Louisville area teacher and mother was killed at an unguarded, vegetation-obstructed short line railroad grade crossing Friday afternoon about 4:00 PM. Her northbound car was struck by an eastbound Paducah & Louisville Railroad freight train.

Phyllis Minton, 63, of Leitchfield, KY, a math teacher at Grayson County High School for 25 years, was killed at a railroad crossing near her daughter and son-in-law Randy and Kim Pennington’s  residence and auto  repair shop on Black Rock Drive.  The crossing is crossed by as many as 10 P&L trains daily at a maximum speed of 30 mph.  Randy was at his Leitchfield business late Friday afternoon when he heard a crash and saw a plume of smoke. Responding to the emergency, he was shocked to find the victim to be his mother-in-law, who was unresponsive and still strapped in the driver’s seat of her car.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates.  It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with protective warning devices, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have occurred.  Both Paducah & Louisville Railroad and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings and studies have confirmed that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train collisions by as much as 96%.

WAVE, meanwhile, quoting K-105, reported that “the northbound crossing approach is at an uphill angle, with a clump of trees blocking the view of the tracks until the driver is nearly on the crossing.  At the time of the accident, the sun would have been shining into the eyes of anyone near the tracks and looking west.”   .

Louisville WHAS-TV interviewed Randy Pennington, who told the reporter that he “is calling on (railroad and government) safety officials to look at the stretch of Black Rock Drive, asking them to install a crossing gate and warning lights to make sure another family doesn’t suffer the nightmare they’re now living.”

“We can’t get her back. Nothing’s going to change that,” Pennington lamented. “But I think it’s (the safety measures) a small price to pay.”

The Paducah and Louisville RR operates 270 miles of track, all in Kentucky, and is owned, along with two other short line railroads, by the P&L Transportation Group.



Railroad News


Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.

James Perrin Lubbock, Texas

I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee

Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.

Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana

Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.

Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas

Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.

Mike Easley Arkansas

Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.

Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri

In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.

Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8