Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Railroad Safety Expert Challenges Allegations of Maine Amtrak Tragedy

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(North Berwick, Maine – July 14, 2011)

A railroad accident investigator from Ohio, with strong credentials in train accident investigation, is casting a critical light upon allegations that the crossing gates were down at this past Monday’s tragic collision between a trash hauler and Amtrak’s “Downeaster” passenger train at North Berwick’s Elm Street crossing.

Robert Comer, who operates Forensic & Electronic Research, Inc. in Magnolia, Ohio, told media and police representatives that “In my 22 years of experience of investigating railroad crossing crashes, I have seen gates that were down and then hit by a vehicle and gates that came down on the vehicle. This particular gate does not appear to have been all the way down when hit.” Comer further argued that if the gate were fully in down position, the truck would have smashed the gate arm into many pieces, and not at a 90 degree angle to the roadway.

He blames the track circuitry, which allows for activation of lights and gates no less than 20 seconds prior to a train’s occupying the crossing. “Amtrak trains are notorious for having detection problems with track circuits,” he maintained.

Cliff Cole, Amtrak spokesman, countered Comer’s comments with the claim that “Amtrak is satisfied that they operate a completely safe and reliable train system.” Meanwhile, North Berwick Police Chief Stephen Peasley was suspicious of Comer’s accusations, saying his comment “doesn’t jibe with (any) of the evidence that we’re getting,” and questioning that Comer has “an axe to grind.”


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