(Lithonia, Georgia – June 17, 2011)
Two and a half years after a 21-year-old college student was struck and seriously injured at a CSX train at a CSX crossing that lacked gates, the Main Street crossing in Lithonia, Georgia remains gateless.
Traci Collins, who now suffers from a cognitive brain disability which affects her concentration and reasoning abilities, was hit by the CSX train about 11:00 P.M. November 20, 2008, and was unconscious for 36 hours after the accident. She was hospitalized for two months with a broken neck, back and pelvis.
The lawsuit seeks $2 million from each of four defendants: CSX, the State of Georgia, DeKalb County and the City of Lithonia. The shell game begins with the City, which has claimed it was not properly served with or notified of the charges. So irresponsible in its zeal to avoid any connection with the lawsuit were Lithonia city officials that they fired the city clerk for accepting the service from a DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputy after the mayor ducked the summons.
Because the city claimed it knew nothing of the lawsuit – even though there were three other defendants – it failed to answer the claims in a timely fashion, and a judge issued a judgment against the city in March, ruling that a hearing be held to allow the plaintiff to prove her damages.
The claims against the city charge that Lithonia failed to “ensure that all traffic signals and devices were properly working, and that any and all impediments to (the) plaintiff’s line of vision regarding the oncoming train were properly maintained.”