Union Pacific sued after employee prematurely closes bridge causing vessel to capsize

Michelle Massey Feb. 22, 2011, 3:15am


Union Pacific Railroad is being sued by the captain of a vessel that capsized after the railroad prematurely closed a railroad bridge causing the vessel to collide into the bridge.

Michael Dardar filed the suit on Feb. 11 in federal court in New Orleans.

The incident occurred on Feb. 11, 2010 as Dardar was working as captain of the M/V Lil Al Cenac and was heading southbound on the Atchafalaya River heading to Houma. Dardar states that before he arrived at the bridge, he made radio contact and requested that the bridge be opened so that his vessel could pass.

He claims the bridge was opened as he approached but that as he neared the railroad bridge, the tender began closing it. The vessel and its barges collided with the bridge, causing the sinking of the vessel and extensive damages to the barges.

Union Pacific's employee is accused of failing to communicate with the plaintiff, operating the railroad bridge in a reckless or negligent manner, closing the bridge prior to the vessel's passage and failing to see and do what he should have done to avoid the accident.

Union Pacific is accused of negligence for failing to adequately train its bridge tenders to perform their duties, failing to adequately supervise its employees and negligent hiring.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages, interest and court costs.

Dardar is represented by Charles C. Bourque, Jr. and Joseph G. Jevic III of St. Martin & Bourque in Houma.

U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-00334

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