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Commuter Files Lawsuit Against Metro-North In Fatal Valhalla Crash

The Commerce Street railroad crossing in Valhalla where a train-SUV accident Feb. 3 killed six people.
The Commerce Street railroad crossing in Valhalla where a train-SUV accident Feb. 3 killed six people. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

VALHALLA, N.Y. -- A lawyer for a Mount Kisco man injured Feb. 3 during the deadliest train accident in Metro-North history filed a notice of claim Friday of his intent to sue for $10 million.

Michael Colquhoun, 55, named the railroad, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York state in a claim filed by Manhattan attorney Robert Vilensky.

Ellen Brody, 49, of Edgemont was driving a Mercedes SUV that was on the railroad tracks at Commerce Street in Valhalla, after a gate came down on the rear of her SUV. When the train struck her car, there was an explosion and the third rail pierced the first two cars of the northbound commuter train.

Colquhoun was in the second rail car. He suffered an arm injury and post-traumatic stress, according to his claim, which calls the public agencies "careless and negligent."

Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for Metro-North, said the railroad has no comment.

It's the first legal action filed in the crash that killed Brody and five male passengers in the first rail car.

Vilensky also represented two passengers in the December 2013 Metro-North derailment in the Bronx.

Extra warning lights and gates that were planned for the crossing in 2009 could have prevented the crash, but were never installed, Vilensky told LoHud.com.

Vilensky also questioned the location of the grade crossing near the Taconic State Parkway and why Metro-North hasn't used technology that can detect obstructions on the tracks.

The notice lists other charges against the agencies, including that the Metro-North failed to "ensure that the train tracks and specifically the third rail would not be ripped up and shear the train,'' according to LoHud.

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