Lucero v. Amtrak

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Lawsuit detailing the history of mentally impaired, confused and/or disoriented Amtrak passengers who have fallen out of trains to their deaths or serious injury. The compilation of prior incidents is the first time the list was made public and was prepared by Patrick J. Loughren, Esquire who co-counseled the Lucero v. Amtrak case.

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Richard E. Donahoo, SBN 186957 Sarah Kokonas, SBN 262875 DONAHOO & ASSOCIATES 440 West First Street, Suite 101 Tustin, CA 92780 Telephone: (714) 953-1010 Facsimile: (714) 953-1777 rdonahoo@donahoo.com skokonas@donahoo.com UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA KATHLEEN LUCERO, on her own behalf and as successor in interest to FRED J. LUCERO; minors M.M.L., R.T.L. and K.A.L., by and through KATHLEEN LUCERO, SARRAH LISA LUCERO, ERIK LUCERO, VICTOR LUCERO and PAUL LUCERO, Plaintiffs, vs. NATIONAL PASSENGER RAILROAD CORPORATION, t/d/b/a AMTRAK; and DOES 1-10, inclusive Defendants. Case No.: CV11-5267-VBF(SPx) FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL 1. GROSS RECKLESSNESS; 2. RESPONDEAT SUPERIOR; 3. CONVERSION; 4. TRESPASS TO CHATTEL 5. INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS; 6. SURVIVAL

Plaintiff, Kathleen Lucero, individually and as successor in interest to Fred J. Lucero (Decedent or Mr. Lucero), and on behalf of her minor children

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M.M.L., R.T.L. and K.A.L.; and Plaintiffs Sarrah Lisa Lucero, Erik Lucero, Victor Lucero and Paul Lucero, complain and allege as follows:1 PARTIES 1. 2. Plaintiff Kathleen Lucero is a resident of the County of San Mrs. Lucero is the widow of the Decedent, Fred J. Lucero Bernardino, residing in Barstow, California 92311. (hereinafter Mr. Lucero). Mr. Lucero died on June 30, 2009 as a result of the tortious conduct of the Defendants as more fully set forth hereinafter. 3. Mrs. Lucero brings this action individually, in her capacity as the successor of interest of Fred J. Lucero, deceased, and on behalf of Mr. Luceros three minor children. 4. In addition to his widow and three minor children, Mr. Lucero is survived by four adult children, Plaintiffs Sarrah Lisa Lucero, Erik Lucero, Victor Lucero and Paul Lucero. Mr. Luceros childrens names, ages and addresses are as follows: a. His daughter, M.M.L., a minor, residing in Barstow, California; b. His daughter, R.T.L, a minor, residing in Barstow, California; and c. His daughter, K.A.L., a minor, residing in Barstow, California ; d. His daughter, Sarrah Lisa Lucero, residing in Hesperia, California; e. His son, Erik Lucero, residing in Topeka, Kansas; f. His son, Victor Lucero, residing in Topeka, Kansas; and g. His son, Paul Lucero, residing in Topeka, Kansas. 5. Defendant, National Railroad Passenger Corporation t/d/b/a Amtrak (Amtrak) is a federally chartered corporation, 100% of the preferred stock of

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Plaintiff minor children are referred to herein by their initials, per Local Rule 79-5.4.2 FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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which is owned by the United States government. Amtrak was incorporated under an Act of Congress pursuant to 45 U.S.C. 501 et seq. 6. At all times material to the events set forth hereinafter, Amtrak Conductor Buckner and Amtrak Coach Attendant Terry Larson were employees of Amtrak and were acting in the course and scope of their employment as such. JURISDICTION AND VENUE 7. This civil action involves a federal question over which this Court has original jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331 and 28 U.S.C. 1349. The federal courts have original jurisdiction in actions involving Amtrak because such actions arise under federal law and, therefore, invoke federal question jurisdiction. 49 U.S.C. 24301 et seq. 8. Venue is proper in this district as decedent Fred J. Lucero resided in this district with Plaintiff and successor in interest Kathleen Lucero and their minor children, M.M.L., R.T.L. and K.A.L.. Mr. Lucero embarked on his travel from this district and was in transit home to this district when he suffered his physical injuries and ultimate death as further described herein. FACTS 9. Mr. Lucero had a history of experiencing seizures. On June 23, 2009, while visiting his adult children living in Topeka, Kansas, Mr. Lucero experienced a tonic-clonic seizure. 10. delirium. 11. On Wednesday, June 24, 2009, Mr. Luceros sons took him to the emergency room of Stormont-Vail Regional Health Center, 1500 S.W. 10th Avenue, Topeka, Kansas 66604 for evaluation and treatment. Mr. Luceros seizure was followed by a postictal period during which Mr. Lucero evidence an altered state of awareness, confusion and

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12. 13.

After medications appeared to have caused Mr. Luceros symptoms The following day, June 27, 2009, Mr. Luceros family noted that he

to abate, Mr. Lucero was discharged on June 26, 2009. was behaving unusual, so they took him back to Stormont-Vail for evaluation and Mr. Lucero was admitted into the hospital. 14. On June 27, 2009 Mr. Lucero was diagnosed as stable from a seizure standpoint. On June 28, 2009 at approximately 12:15 pm Mr. Lucero was discharged from the hospital and was advised to follow up with his primary doctor in California as needed. 15. California. 16. 17. Mr. Luceros son, Erik Lucero, assisted Mr. Lucero onto the train. Amtrak Conductor Lewis Buckner and Coach Attendant Terry On June 30, 2009, at approximately 1:05 a.m., Mr. Lucero, boarded an Amtrak train in Topeka, Kansas intending to take the train home to Barstow,

Larson were present when Mr. Lucero boarded the train and, on information and belief, both Conductor Buckner and Coach Attendant Larson personally observed Mr. Lucero. 18. 19. Both Conductor Buckner and Coach Attendant Larson were aware Coach Attendant Larson assisted Mr. Luceros son, Erik, in that Mr. Lucero was disoriented and unsteady on his feet. boarding Mr. Lucero onto the train and helped direct Mr. Lucero to seats 83 and 84 located on the lower level of the 0311 coach car. 20. on his feet. Coach Attendant Larsons assistance was necessary to direct Mr. Lucero into his seat because Mr. Lucero was obviously disoriented and unsteady

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21.

Erik Lucero was asked whether his father was intoxicated, to which

he responded in the negative and advised that his father was unsteady due to a health condition. 22. At no time during the boarding process did either Conduct Lewis or Coach Attendant Larson advise Erik Lucero that they would not keep an eye on Mr. Lucero nor did they inform Erik Lucero that Mr. Lucero should not ride the train unless someone was going to be riding with him in order to look out for him. 23. At no time during the boarding process did either Conductor Lewis or Coach Attendant Larson advise Erik Lucero that scores of elderly and confused passengers had fallen off of moving Amtrak trains to their deaths in the past forty years despite the fact, on information and belief, that occurrences of confused and disoriented passengers exiting moving trains and falling to their deaths or to serious injury happened with such frequency that it was an almost routine occurrence. 24. As more fully explained hereinafter, Amtrak has a forty-year history of having confused, elderly and/or disorientated passengers exit moving trains to their deaths due to doors that are unsafe and a staff that is deliberately untrained by Amtrak. Amtraks management and teams of lawyers are well aware of the fact that scores of such passengers have fallen out of Amtraks trains to their deaths, but Amtraks management and lawyers hide this fact from both the public and, more importantly, its employees who work on the front-lines riding the rails and who could protect such passengers from harm if only they were given some training and instruction as to what they should do. 25. Had Erik Lucero known that confused and disoriented passengers have a propensity and/or the ability to open the doors of moving Amtrak trains and fall to their deaths or to serious bodily injury, Erik Lucero would have never5 FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES

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left his father in the care of Amtrak and its employees as he did on June 30, 2010. 26. of Topeka. 27. Erik Lucero reasonably believed that the Amtrak employees working on the train would ensure the safe passage of his father from Topeka, Kansas to Barstow, California and he further reasonably believed that Amtrak and its employees would not abandon and ignore his father and allow his father in his confused and disoriented state, to wander around the train, open an exit door, and fall to his death. 28. After the train pulled out of Topeka, and despite knowing that he had an obviously disoriented passenger onboard the train, Coach Attendant Larson went to bed. 29. On information and belief, Mr. Lucero, in a confused and disoriented state, got up from his seat and exited the seating area of the coach he was traveling in. 30. Conductor Buckner came through the coach and noticed that Mr. Luceros seat was empty. Conductor Buckner presumed that Mr. Lucero was in the lounge or the restroom. 31. 32. Conductor Buckner made no effort to locate Mr. Lucero, even Sometime between 2:00 am and 3:00 a.m. on June 30, 2009, as the though he knew that Mr. Lucero was disoriented and unsteady on his feet. train passed through Florence, Kansas, Mr. Lucero, in a confused and disoriented state, mistakenly opened an exit door and fell to his death as the train was traveling approximately 79 mph. At no time did Coach Attendant Larson advise Erik Lucero that he (i.e. Larson) in fact was intending on going to sleep soon after the train pulled out

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