Almanac

News - June 19, 2013

City sued over car's collision with train in Menlo Park

by Sandy Brundage

The aftershocks of a late April afternoon collision continue to ripple through Menlo Park a year later: Two women who had been traveling in a car struck by a train at the Ravenswood crossing are now suing the city, the county, Caltrain and the state.

Filed in San Mateo County Superior Court on June 3 by Menlo Park residents Sharon Geaghan, her husband David Breiner and her daughter, Meredith Geaghan Breiner, the lawsuit alleges the defendants "negligently failed to coordinate traffic signals with traffic flow and trains; properly design the roadway, intersection, and environs where the collision occurred; or provide notice to CalTrain or CalTrain's employees of the collision danger."

The court filing states that Ms. Geaghan on April 13, 2012, was driving west across the tracks when traffic suddenly stopped, boxing her car in on the tracks as the crossing gates came down. A Caltrain "baby bullet" express train going approximately 80 mph ran into her car, leaving her and her daughter with severe injuries and permanent disabilities, according to the lawsuit.

On the day of the incident a Caltrain spokeswoman said that a 1996 Saab traveling west on Ravenswood Avenue in Menlo Park failed to clear the crossing and was struck by southbound train #264. The train struck the rear of the car. The spokeswoman described the driver's injuries as minor; the passenger also was taken to Stanford Hospital as a precaution. The train and its passengers were unscathed.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages and legal costs and have asked for a trial by jury.

Menlo Park City Attorney Bill McClure said the lawsuit didn't appear any different from a claim the family filed against the city, which was denied. "Menlo Park does not control the crossing nor the El Camino intersection, so there would appear to be no merit to including Menlo Park in the lawsuit," he told the Almanac.

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