A woman hit by a GO train at the Kitchener, Ontario railroad crossing in 2019 is filing a $3.25 million lawsuit
A woman who suffered life-threatening injuries after falling at a railroad crossing in Kitchener Ont. hit by a GO Transit train is suing Metrolinx, Canadian National Railway, Bombardier and others for $3.25 million.
In a lawsuit filed in January 2022, Jenna Armstrong and her husband Daniel Armstrong are seeking $2 million in moral damages, $1 million in special pecuniary damages and $250,000 in damages under the Family Law Act.
Two unnamed train operators, the City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo, are also named in the Armstrongs’ lawsuit.
None of the claims have been tested or proven in court.
An earlier version of the lawsuit, filed in April 2021, did not include Bombardier, which was contracted to operate the GO Transit train, and only mentioned a GO train operator.
James Scarfone, the Armstrongs’ attorney, did not respond to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s request for comment. When reached via social media for an interview, Jenna and Daniel Armstrong declined to comment.
As of Friday afternoon, Metrolinx had not responded to email or phone requests for comment from CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.
Armstrong’s accident was the subject of an independent investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), which released its findings on Thursday.
The TSB report found that at the time Armstrong and a six-year-old boy were struck by the GO train at the intersection of Lancaster and Victoria streets, the Ontario Department of Transportation was not providing effective safety oversight over the provincial-regulated railroads.
Also, according to the report, Metrolinx has implemented additional security measures at the level crossing in question since Armstrong and the boy were attacked.
Accident just before 3 p.m
On November 13, 2019, Armstrong and the boy, both from Guelph, suffered serious injuries when they were hit. The train had been heading west as they attempted to cross the railroad tracks.
Armstrong was 13 weeks pregnant. The boy is not related to her but was being cared for by her that day while she was working for a behavioral counseling firm, a center that provides autism therapy for children. The status of the child is not immediately known today.
The Crossroads has two live tracks owned by Metrolinx. Metrolinx commuter trains, Via passenger trains, and CN trains all use the crossing.
Metrolinx officials said at the time of the incident that staff were notified just before 3pm that two people had been hit by a GO train coming from Guelph.
More than $27,000 was raised through an online fundraiser to help Armstrong in her recovery.
According to the complaint, she had multiple injuries and fractures to her head, neck and spine, as well as her shoulders, hip, ankle and forearm. It also said Armstrong suffered from anxiety, insomnia and other mental injuries from being hit by the train.
The accident also impacted Armstrong’s ability to return to work, the lawsuit states. While she plans to return to her previous employer, it says she hasn’t done so yet because she is “unable to perform all the necessary aspects” of her job.
The lawsuit states that she is seeking reimbursement of expenses for medical treatment and rehabilitation that she is still undergoing.
Negligence to Protect Pedestrians: Claim
Armstrong’s lawsuit alleges that the parties named in their lawsuit failed to protect and properly warn pedestrians about a second track at the intersection.
It is said that Metrolinx and Bombardier have not put in place procedures and policies to ensure pedestrians are notified and warned at the intersection of two trains running at the same time.
The claim also states that both parties were aware of the hazards at the intersection and that they knew there were no pedestrian warnings or barriers to prevent Armstrong from being injured. Both operators operated the train with no regard or consideration for pedestrians crossing the runway and “did not emit audible warnings as the GO train approached the level crossing” because the horns were never honked, according to the complaint.
Because there are two tracks at the crossing, CN had a duty to ensure pedestrian safety and coordinate with the city and region to warn pedestrians of upcoming trains, “knowing that CN trains have the clear view.” to the road and did so to pedestrians crossing the two sets of tracks,” the allegation reads. Similar allegations are also made of the involvement of the City of Kitchener and the Waterloo area in failing to erect barriers and warning signs installed for pedestrians.
Region and city reject allegations
In a joint defense statement and counterclaim filed in October 2021, the region and city deny “every single allegation” made in the Armstrongs’ lawsuit. In the counterclaim, the two municipalities have said Armstrong should pay her legal fees on the case.
The region and city also deny they acted negligently and deny having jurisdiction over the level crossing or any part of the railroad in the lawsuit.
The defense statement argues that the region and city are not liable for Armstrong’s injuries, damages and losses as they arose solely from her negligence in crossing the tracks.
The region and city’s counterclaim states that Metrolinx and/or CN owns the level crossing and was responsible for its maintenance and inspection and for proper signage and barriers.
As the matter is before the court, the Waterloo Region declined to comment.
Metrolinx, Bombardier and CN have all filed letters of intent to defend themselves in the case, but have not yet filed defense letters. CBC News reached out to the three for comment, but had heard nothing from Bombardier and CN as of late Friday.
Metrolinkx gave this email response: “In light of the ongoing litigation in the courts, it would be inappropriate for Metrolinx to comment further.”