Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Trucker Ticketed For Railroad’s, County’s Failure To Place MUTCD Sign

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Leoni Township, Michigan – February 2, 2012)

After his release from a local hospital, where he was treated for injuries he received in his miraculous escape from death in a collision with an Amtrak passenger train at the “low ground clearance” crossing of Portage Road and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in Leoni Twp, MI Wednesday, truck driver David Zimmer, 68, of Saugerties, NY was presented with a traffic citation for not heeding a sign that neither the railroad nor the county ever put up.

Although he was given no advance warning of the potential hazard, his truck got stuck and he tried repeatedly to dislodge it from its precarious position, only to have the Chicago-bound Amtrak train hit his disabled semi, resulting in the locomotive and two cars of the train derailing and sending 10 passengers and Zimmer to a hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Zimmer was driving an 18-wheeler hauling oil field equipment when his semi-trailer became hung up on the high-profile crossing, a hazard of which he received no warning as the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires.

Township Public Safety Director Mike Jester told local news media that police would be citing the trucker for trying to cross railroad tracks without enough clearance, a “violation” he described as a civil infraction. The statute police intend to charge Zimmer with indicates that a driver should not cross the tracks unless the vehicle has enough space underneath so it can cross the tracks without stopping.

While officials were busy pointing fingers at the alleged culprit, no attention whatsoever was paid to the MUTCD, which is the standard for all transportation agencies in the United States, and its requirements for crossings like the Portage Road/NS one.

The MUTCD states clearly that “If the highway profile conditions are sufficiently abrupt to create a hang-up situation for long wheelbase vehicles or for trailers with low ground clearance, the Low Ground Clearance Highway-Rail Grade Crossing (W10-5) sign should be installed in advance of the highway-rail grade crossing.”


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