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Tennessee jury says restaurant isn't liable for train death

After three weeks of hearing testimony, evidence and arguments, a Tennessee jury determined that a Chattanooga restaurant was not at fault in a wrongful death case brought on behalf of a 19-year-old who died after being run over by a train in August 2011.

The 19-year-old woman and the 27-year-old son of the restaurant owners were run over by a 250-ton train after apparently falling asleep on train tracks early on Aug. 22.

According to a timeline established during the trial, the pair left the Chattanooga restaurant together after 2 a.m. when they had both finished their shifts. After making a few stops, the two headed to a farm outside of Chattanooga to go swimming around 4 a.m.

At 5:50 a.m., a Norfolk Southern train crossing the farm property struck the two, claiming both of their lives.

In a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit, the young woman’s mother blamed the restaurant owners for allowing her daughter to drink there after her work shift, which is, she said, the reason the two fell asleep on the tracks.

However, there was no concrete evidence that the 19-year-old was served alcohol at the restaurant by the 27-year-old restaurant manager. And while blood tests showed that the two had been drinking, it was unclear when and where the drinking had taken place.

After deliberating for 90 minutes, the jury found that the 27-year-old was not responsible for providing alcohol to the 19-year-old, thereby clearing the owners of the restaurant of liability.

The mother now has a chance to appeal the decision, though it hasn’t been reported if she will take the opportunity.


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