Hiroyuki Joho, a teenager from Chicago, who was killed while crossing train tracks, can be sued over injuries caused to a woman on the platform, when one of his severed body parts hit her, a court has ruled.
Hiroyuki Joho, 18, died when he ran in front of a 70 mph Amtrak train at Edgebrook Metra station in Chicago in 2008. It was pouring with rain and the teen had an umbrella over his head.
The teenager body was severed on impact, and a large part became airborne, flying about 100 feet onto the southbound platform, where it hit a commuter.
Gayane Zokhrabov, 58, was knocked to the ground, her leg and wrist broken and her shoulder injured, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A Cook County court judge initially dismissed Gayane Zokhrabov’s lawsuit against the boy’s estate, ruling that Hiroyuki Joho could not possibly have anticipated her injuries.
But ruling in what it called a “tragically bizarre” case, a state appeals court disagreed.
It found that “it was reasonably foreseeable” that the high-speed train would kill the man hopeful and fling his body toward a platform where people were waiting.
Lawyer Leslie Rosen, who handled Gayane Zokhrabov’s appeal, argued that the case was a straightforward negligence case, albeit with “very peculiar and gory and creepy” circumstances.
“If you do something as stupid as this guy did, you have to be responsible for what comes from it,” Leslie Rosen said.
The teenager’s mother Jeung-Hee Park, had left the bright high-school student at the station that morning.
Seeing what he thought was his local train approaching and expecting it to slow down, Hiroyuki Joho went to cross a same-level pedestrian walkway across the tracks to get to the right side of the track.
But in fact his train was delayed by the bad weather, his mother’s lawyer Keith Davidson said.
The train which hit the teenager was an Amtrak high speed express speeding at 70 mph towards the city centre.
Jeung-Hee Park had previously filed her own suit claiming that Metra and the Canadian Pacific Railway were negligent.
The express Amtrak train had overtaken his Metra train which was running late that morning, but no announcement was made on the platform, the suit said.
A Cook County judge ruled that the railway companies had no compulsion to warn people about such an “open and obvious danger” as a travelling train. The decision was upheld on appeal
Lawyer Keith Davidson said that the crossing where of high speed trains cross a slow commuter train track is inherently hazardous.
The whistle that warns people to keep clear is no longer in use and the view of the track is partly blocked by foliage, he said.
“It really reflects a failure of the courts to get to grips with the limits of cognition and human reaction.
“It has been shown that objects, in this case as train, approaching from a distance from a wide angle appear to be going much more slowly than they are.
“Hiroyuki would have thought he had plenty of time to cross the track.”
The lawyers are seeking a further appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
The popular teen known to friends and friends as Hiro – was a member of the soccer and tennis teams, a dancer and demonstrated Taiko Japanese drumming on International culture days.