Canada
Ontario mom hit with lawsuit near anniversary of son's death in train collision

Sharon Jobson holds up a lawsuit telling her she's being sued as executor of her late son's will by CN Rail for $500,000 plus interest

Credits: MIKE HENSEN/QMI AGENCY

DEBORA VAN BRENK | QMI AGENCY

LONDON, ON - She thought the visitor had come to tell her that warning lights and gates were about to be installed at the rail crossing where her son John's truck collided with a train two years ago.

She thought it might be a friend, offering comfort as the anniversary of his death nears.

Instead, Sharon Jobson was hit with a $500,000 lawsuit Tuesday for damage and inconvenience her son's fatal crash caused railway giant CN Rail.

"I couldn't believe it. I was shocked," the London-area woman said.

The lawsuit has sparked outrage among her friends on Facebook -- some calling it "callous," sickening" and a "money-grab." The posts include one from the sister of Gloyde Mills, who died at the same crossing 13 years earlier.

The CNR lawsuit alleges John Jobson, 22, was negligent when he didn't stop his pickup truck at the Pratt Siding crossing near Glencoe, Ont., on July 29, 2011. He collided with a westbound Via train, which derailed. Six of the 116 people aboard were injured.

The young farmer died in hospital six days later.

His mother, Sharon Jobson, has since campaigned for full lights, gates and bells at the double-track crossing and at several similar crossings where others have died or been hurt.

She won part of that battle -- Transport Canada, CNR and Southwest Middlesex all approved and budgeted for the $400,000 improvement this year -- and the safety equipment has been delivered to the township. Installation is expected within days.

A Transportation Safety Board report that said Jobson's truck didn't stop at the crossing also noted the crossing had non-standard warning signs, which were partly obscured by weeds. It also said the train's horn wasn't retrofitted to newer standards.

The CN lawsuit, though, says John Jobson was "wholly responsible" for the collision and Sharon Jobson, his executor, is his legal representative.

The suit alleges John was an incompetent driver who was speeding, shouldn't even have been driving, didn't stop at the stop sign nor heed the Via train horn, was inattentive and either didn't apply his brakes or did so too late.

It says CN "incurred substantial expense" to repair the tracks and extra expense from a bottleneck when the rail line had to be closed.

The allegations that haven't been proven in court.

CN wouldn't comment because the issue is in litigation.

The family has a lawyer, but they'd decided not to sue CN for what they still believe to be a succession of unsafe, minimally-protected crossings in the area.

Sharon Jobson has 20 days to file a statement of defence and/or a counter-suit.

While the lawsuit's timing might seem insensitive, it could be a function of regulation: Any lawsuit claiming wrongdoing in a death must be filed within two years of that fatality.

CN Rail, which operates one of North America's largest rail networks, reported almost $10 billion in revenue last year.

Damages Via's train incurred -- the passenger line operates on CN tracks -- or injuries to its passengers, aren't included in the lawsuit.

 

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