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Metro-North's Failure To Fix Crossing Safety Key In Suit, Brody Lawyer Says

A key question is whether s full set of crossing gates might have prevented the Feb. 3 collision between Ellen Brody's SUV and a Metro-North commuter train, killing Brody and five passengers on the train.
A key question is whether s full set of crossing gates might have prevented the Feb. 3 collision between Ellen Brody's SUV and a Metro-North commuter train, killing Brody and five passengers on the train. Photo Credit: File photo

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- The lawyer for Alan Brody of Edgemont, whose wife Ellen was killed Feb. 3 when her SUV was struck by a commuter train in Valhalla, said poor visibility is a key factor in proving liability.

Attached to Brody's notice of claim, which was filed Monday, are exhibits citing federal regulations that required Metro-North to ensure safety at its Commerce Street crossing.

At least 34 parties filed notices of claim, the first step to initiate a lawsuit, by Monday's deadline, according to LoHud.com.

The wife of Eric Vandecar of Bedford Hills -- one of the five passengers killed on the train -- also filed a notice of claim, LoHud reported. That claim cites poor road design and the fire caused by the third rail.

Philip Russotti, a Manhattan attorney representing Brody, said the lack of full crossing gates across the entire width of Commerce Street may have contributed to Ellen Brody not realizing her Mercedes SUV was close to the tracks. The current crossing design has two "half" gates, each blocking one lane. Safer setups include a four-gate configuration, sealing off the entire "box," according to rail safety experts. Another preferred setup includes two "full" gates blocking the entire street on both sides of the track.

Russotti said there also is a building very close to the tracks that would have obscured the train engineer's view of the crossing.

And Russotti said there is a question about the timing of the nearby traffic light on the Taconic State Parkway and whether it contributed to the crash during stop-and go gridlock traffic caused by an earlier car accident,

That and the fact the state Department of Transportation never followed through on planned safety improvements may leave the state liable for lawsuit damages.

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